The Tea Party is suffering from terrible approval ratings and getting most of the blame for the government shutdown. But, the biggest problem for the movement is that they aren’t any good at fielding candidates that can win.
Slate.com’s Jonathan Bernstein says despite some exceptions (Mike Lee, Ted Cruz), most of the Tea Party backed candidates have been disastrous (Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin) and cost the GOP winnable seats.
That’s not likely to change anytime soon.
So what do Republicans have for 2014? Matt Bevin, taking on Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, is a first-time candidate; should he win, Republicans would probably lose that seat. In Georgia, Paul Braun in particular is thought by many to be a particularly weak candidate, capable of losing that open seat to Democrat Michelle Nunn if he emerges as the nominee. In Louisiana, Republicans had settled on a solid candidate to challenge Mary Landrieu, but Tea Partyer Rob Maness has jumped in with plenty of serious organizational support.
Still, it appears to be no more distinguished of a crop than the 2010 and 2012 versions, and I strongly suspect they will begin to generate equally baroque sound bites as soon as the public portion of the campaign season begins. After all, we just had birther Dean Young, who provided plenty of entertainment if you enjoy politicians saying crazy things, come close to knocking off mainstream conservative Bradley Byrne in the Alabama 1 special election.