The media has constantly proclaimed that “The Tea Party is dead” due to the fact that no clear cut constitutional conservative won a Republican Senate primary this year.
While this is true, it doesn’t mean the Tea Party is dead. It just means the Tea Party was outspent.
Polling indicates that on a per-dollar basis, constitutional conservatives running for the Senate fared far better than establishment candidates. Polling also indicates that these candidates vastly outperformed their polling expectations.
Examine the following three case studies:
In the Alaska primary for example. Joe Miller, the Tea Party choice, finished second with 32%. In the last five polls before the primary, he received 17%, 20%, 16%, 13%, and 15% percent. Miller spent less than $600,000, while his opponents Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan spent over $1,000,000 and $3,000,000, earning 25% and 40% percent in the primary respectively. Not to mention, outside spenders combined to spend around $1,700,000 in favor of Treadwell and Miller, while only about $25,000 was in favor of Miller.
In Tennessee, Joe Carr polled at 29%, 24%, 21%, 36%, and 20% in the five polls before the primary. He spent less than $1,200,000 to his opponent Lamar Alexander’s $6,200,000, and ended up with 41% in the primary. Carr did have about $700,000 in favorable outside spending as opposed to Alexander’s $400,000, but overall he was at a significant cash disadvantage.
In Kansas, the last five polls had Milton Wolf at 39%, 30%, 30%, 23%, and 23%. He finished with 41% in the primary. He spent $970,000 to Pat Robert’s $3,400,000. Outside spending did favor Wolf $800,o00 to $300,000, but overall he also had a money disadvantage.
Taken as a whole, this data indicates that Tea Party voters tend to be under-polled. By extension, their candidates end up over-performing. And all of this is done at a cash disadvantage.
If the Tea Party and constitutional conservatives start polling competitively and are able to effectively raise money, watch out establishment.