...the Tea Party, despite the media sensation it has generated, does not seem to have boosted the vote of candidates it supported. In the 2010 midterm, the Tea Party—via the two major national groups, Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks, and the congressional Tea Party Caucus—endorsed Republicans in Republican districts, and those Republicans performed about as expected. These factors, largely missed in commentaries on the movement and its implications for 2012, suggest that the Tea Party may not have much traction, at least in future general elections.
The penchant for endorsing candidates in Republican-leaning areas almost completely explains the Tea Party's success rate.
So while the large number of victories for Tea Party–backed candidates suggests electoral appeal and political clout, it seems that a Tea Party endorsement actually didn't matter all that much. In an election year that favored Republican politicians because of the prolonged economic recession and stubbornly high unemployment, Republican politicians did about as well as one would expect.
But even if the Tea Party endorsement carried little additional punch, perhaps the movement infused new money into politics? It doesn't seem so.
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