In just a few short years the ultra conservative Tea Party movement has come to dominate the political landscape in the US. And now it’s gunning for control of the Republican Party, with yesterday’s US Primaries providing a massive win for the Tea Party supported nominees.

Have the normal leaders of the Republican Party lost control? Is the party lurching even further to the Right? The latest results have the GOP establishment in a conservative conniption.

Mike Castle, a US Republican Senator for Delaware since 1993 lost out in favour to newcomer Christine “mast-rbation is a sin” O’Donnell, one of Sarah Palin’s famed Mama Grizzlies. And he wasn’t the only Republican Party casualty overnight.

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Karl Rove has already launched an attack against O’Donnell, blasting: “There were a lot of nutty things she has been saying that don’t add up…”

O’Donnell had a few choice words for the likes of Rove, telling The Guardian just hours after her victory: “The Republicans have lost their way…They have abandoned the principles on which our country was founded. The party establishment died last night.”

It’s looking messier than the Turnbull v Abbott saga. Should the Republican Party be worried about this hijacking? Absolutely, is the general consensus from the commentariat.

Dan Balz at the Washington Post immediately opens with words of war. “Call it a civil war, an insurrection or merely an insurgency. By any measure, the establishment leadership of the Republican Party has lost control and is now being pulled along toward an unpredictable, uncertain future.”

It’s confusing to examine exactly how positive or negative this win for the Tea Party will play out for the Republican Party overall, notes Chris Weigant at Huffington Post. “‘The hostile takeover’ of the Republican Party by the Tea Partiers continues apace. Except, of course, where it doesn’t. Like much else about the entire Tea Party movement, it’s hard to pin down exactly what is going on and what it all means,” says Weigant, as he offers five different ways that these races will pan out.

Is this rift within the Republican Party simply going to be a win for the Democrats? “…privately, Republican strategists conceded that her victory may put Delaware out of reach for them in November, and grumbled that the development could hurt their already remote chances of taking over the Senate from Democratic control,” reports Michael Shear in the NY Times.

The result is an epic win for Obama, declares Andrew Pavelyev in FrumForum. “The real action in this election cycle was in the Republican primaries, they are almost over, and we already know who won: (drum roll, please!) President Obama. American conservatives have suffered a crushing and lasting defeat. The center of gravity in American politics has shifted permanently and irreversibly to the left (and conservative ideology will eventually follow).”

Conservative columnist Tunku Varadarajan agrees in The Daily Beast, saying Republicans have cut off their nose to spite their face. “Confirming the truth that primaries are but a sweaty, vulgar contest in which ideological bully boys stomp to the forefront, Republican die-hards have voted for ‘purity,’ an elusive concept at the best of times, but in this context a vote for suicide.”

That’s because the Tea Party movement isn’t working on successful campaign strategies or brain storming election ideas. “If anything, it seems that the Tea Party is very interested in standing on what it sees as core ideological values, and worry about election strategy does not fit with that emphasis,” says Dr. Brian Calfano from KOLR/KSFX.

A recent poll by YouGov for the Economist breaks down the average Tea Party supporter into a handy infographic.


Think predominately white, over 65 years old and wealthy. Unsurprisingly, over 70% also support the Republican Party.

Time for the Republican Party establishment to take a long, hard look at itself, says Politico‘s Jonathan Martin. “Aside from the political implications of the upset, the outcome prompted a round of deep Republican soul-searching about what it said about their party when a political pillar in Delaware like Rep. Mike Castle, a respected lawmaker who was considered a shoo-in for the Senate seat, could not even come within six points of defeating the controversial and still largely unknown O’Donnell.”

With the Republicans bickering amongst themselves, a wide spot in the political centre just opened up for Obama.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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