The Tea Party was once celebrated as Republicans’ best hope to take control of the government for the nation’s conservatives. This is hardly the case today, as Tea Party Republicans running for Senate will mostly lose to their Democratic opponents and keep control of the Senate in Democratic hands. The one area of the country where the Tea Party is still going strong is in the Bible Belt.
Two major Tea Party victories were celebrated in the midwest, when Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana won their primaries. Akin won out against other candidates that had Tea Party support as well, but what put him over the top was his socially conservative views. Mourdock had a big primary fight against long-time incumbent Richard Lugar. While social issues weren’t part of the campaign in the primary, they came up in a big way recently when Mourdock said that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Back in August, Akin cause a firestorm when he said, “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” These two comments have taken races which were solidly in GOP hands and turned them towards democrats. Akin is behind his opponent, Claire McCaskill in the polls by 5.0%, while Mourdock is behind his opponent Joe Donnelly by 3.0%.
The one area though were the Tea Party is still going strong is in the heart of the Bible Belt in Texas. Republican Ted Cruz will likely beat his opponent Paul Sadler in a landslide. Currently he enjoys an 18% lead on Sadler, and has polled as much as 26% ahead.
What this shows is very clear. In the deep south, where the Bible Belt is strong, the Tea Party is still going strong, whereas in middle America the Tea Party is losing ground. The Tea Party has been taken over by the social conservative wing of the Republican Party. Bible Belt Republicans seem to love this new Tea Party, but others are becoming more leery. Overall this appears to be a net negative for Republicans who will likely be able to blame this new Tea Party for losing their chances at taking over the Senate in this election.