House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in Virginia’s Republican primary a day earlier to a virtual unknown, Tea Party-backed economics professor Dave Brat, was a Grade-A political bombshell, the biggest shockwave to course through Congress in years.
“This election should be a reminder to all in Congress –- Republicans and Democrats alike –- that the conservative base is alive and well,” crowed Senator Ted Cruz, widely seen as the congressional flagbearer of the movement.
A single battle victory does not win a civil war, however. The anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement has actually lost the vast majority of primary challenges against Republican incumbents it has made this election cycle.
“The establishment is winning, and winning quite consistently,” with research showing the Tea Party “is not doing that well in national terms,” John Hudak, an expert at The Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank, told AFP.
Cantor may have proved the Tea Party movement can still take down trophy prey, but “I think drawing lessons about what it means for Republicans generally is a bit overstated,” Hudak added.