The Tea Party Movement appeared to have become a major force in American politics in the 2010 mid-term elections, sweeping 87 new Republicans into the lower house, biting into the Democrats' lead in the senate, and monstering mainstream Republicans into pushing the party further to the right.
Just two years later, the results are starkly different, with Tea Party-aligned candidates causing considerable embarrassment, dragging down the Republican vote and costing it eminently winnable Senate seats — and perhaps even the presidency.
The most epic failure was in Indiana, where six-term Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an internationally respected expert on nuclear disarmament, lost the Republican primary election in May. The successful challenger, Richard Mourdock, mounted a well financed campaign with support from the Tea Party movement, the National Rifle Association and such arch-conservative lobby groups as the Club for Growth, Red State and FreedomWorks. Mourdock also came armed with endorsements from Tea Party favourites Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.
Lugar had been enormously popular with voters in general elections, winning at least two-thirds of the vote in 1988, 1994 and 2000. In 2006, the Democrats didn’t stand a candidate against him, with Lugar recording 87% of the vote against his Libertarian challenger.