Many, many reporters have asked me who the leader of the conservative movement is right now or who the leader of the tea party movement is.
They rarely report the answer, though they should be paying attention to it. In the CPAC straw poll, one name dominated the pack. With the highest favorable ratings (73%) and lowest unfavorable ratings (8%), Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina led the field — scoring higher popularity than Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mike Pence, John Beohner, Mitch McConnell, or Michael Steel.
It'd be easy to dismiss the polling except that, unlike the Ron Paul vote for winner, DeMint's popular scores across the field from young to old, conservative to libertarian oriented.
Why is that?
Largely, I think it is because Jim DeMint is actually doing what other Republicans talk about — staying true to conservative values and recruiting conservatives. From Chuck DeVore to Michael Williams to Pat Toomey to Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint is picking, funding, and supporting conservatives across the nation in stark contrast to other Republican leaders.
DeMint is not afraid to involve himself in a primary. And in Congress he is not afraid to pick tough fights and challenge his own party to do what is right. DeMint does not just talk the talk, but he unapologetically walks the walk.
Few people leave Washington having really changed America. Jim DeMint will one day be able to proudly say he did not just change his party, but his country too.