Over the past year, political observers have argued that the influence of the Tea Party is waning. But tomorrow's Indiana Senate primary could turn that narrative on its head should Hoosiers decide to replace 35-year incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar with Richard Mourdock, the state treasurer who is favored by the Tea Party. As David Hogberg points out at Investor's Business Daily, the Tea Party has also been flexing its muscle in Senate races in Utah and Texas.
Those who have been pushing the idea that the Tea Party is weakening have placed too much emphasis on the presidential race and the fact that Mitt Romney emerged as the nominee. But the presidential race is a different beast for a number of reasons. One is that it takes place across multiple states, whereas Tea Parties are a more local phenomenon. Another is that it's a lot easier for low name recognition candidates with less political experience to make the jump to representative or the U.S. Senate than to the presidential level. Given that the Tea Party's influence was felt for the first time in 2009 and 2010, there simply weren't any candidates ready to make the leap to president this time around. Finally, Tea Party activists were smart enough to realize early on that they were unlikely to get what they wanted out of the presidential race, and recognized that it would be much more important to elect conservative members of Congress to push the agenda to the right, no matter who ended up as president.