Can The TEA Party Win On A National Level?

Bookmark and ShareWith the 2012 GOP field of presidential hopefuls lending numerous rumors and anticipation to it’s constituency the polls seem to be giving early indications that those names who have been there before have the advantage heading into the spring.

2008 candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have been neck and neck in most polls and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich along with 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have been receiving a large helping of media attention. So with the polls showing the familiar names leading the pack, where does the TEA Party fit into all of this?

Most media outlets recognize CNBC’s Rick Santelli with launching the movement with a speech from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009 while giving a speech against the Obama administrations proposal to help homeowners with their mortgages. Keli Carender, blogger, teacher organized some of the earliest Tea Party style protests, before they were even called Tea Party protests. In February of 2009, Carender held a rally against the economic stimulus package in downtown Seattle. Ron Paul supporters credit him with launching the movement as far back as 2007 when the GOP held the keys to the White House and the federal budget deficit began to grow.

Despite who claims credit for the origins of the movement it flexed it’s muscles during the 2010 midterm elections. Some credit has to be given to the TEA Party movement for the Republicans taking the majority away from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. It was their message of controlling government spending and debt that propelled the GOP to victory.

So why is it that most polls for 2012 show the members of the ‘old guard’ as the early favorites? Sarah Palin is held in high regard by many who consider themselves TEA partiers but has shown little indication that she is making a run in 2012. Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the second straight year but in national polling is far behind the leaders. Tim Pawlenty has been campaigning to and garnering new found support amongst the TEA Party faithful but has yet to make any real gains to put himself on the same level of support as the early polling favorites. MN Rep. Michelle Bachmann has been hinting at a run and is the founder of the House TEA Party Caucus but has made many highly publicized gaffes and hasn’t even been a blip on the radar if the polling is any indication.

It is apparent from the results seen in 2010 that the TEA Party movement has a certain bit of influence. They are well organized and always draw media attention to their message of government fiscal responsibility. The question is can they bring the same message and support on a national level during a run for the White House as they did on the local level bringing a GOP majority to the House? The early polling doesn’t seem to say they can. It is very early in the process however and things can change quickly in the world of politics.

I believe that 2012 will be a huge test for the TEA Party movement. If they can get a candidate amongst the leaders for the GOP nomination they should be able to cement themselves as a true influence in national politics. If they fail to break through during THE largest race in the nation, they could be relegated to a mere footnote in American political history. Their message is a good one and seems to resonate with most Americans perception of the countries economic situation. Will that roll over into support from the independents that are necessary to win the White House? Time will only tell. Early indications however show that they have inroads to make within the GOP first.

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