The Fix: tea party

Cliven Bundy: The tea party’s latest anti-hero

Cliven Bundy: The tea party’s latest anti-hero

Republicans who have in recent days shown support for Cliven Bundy's beef -- no pun intended -- with the federal government are starting to back away from the Nevada rancher. That's what happens when you decide to muse about the possibility that, just maybe, African Americans would be better off under slavery.

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The decline of the tea party -- in 5 charts

The decline of the tea party -- in 5 charts

The tea party continues to wield some influence on the campaign trail and in Congress. But it’s not winning any popularity contests.

A new Gallup poll shows that roughly half of Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of the tea party movement. And the negativity is not just driven by Democrats. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans and 34 percent of conservatives hold an unfavorable view of the movement.

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The GOP’s business-vs.-tea party battle moves to Idaho

The GOP’s business-vs.-tea party battle moves to Idaho

Eastern Idaho is home to scenic mountains and rivers, a bountiful potato crop, and now, a heated battle between the business wing of the GOP and the tea party.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came to the defense of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) Thursday by launching a TV ad meant to bolster his standing against a primary challenger running to his right. "Conservative, Idaho strong," says the narrator of Simpson in the 30-second commercial.

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The Republican Party = the tea party. Basically.

The Republican Party = the tea party. Basically.

Ever since the government shutdown (and well before it), folks like The Fix have been focused like a laser on the tea party’s influence on the Republican Party.

All of which obscures one simple fact: Americans see them as basically the same thing.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows an increasing number of Americans think the tea party has too much influence in today’s GOP. While 23 percent said the tea party had too much influence in a March 2010 WaPo-ABC poll, and 35 percent said the same in a Pew poll early last month, 43 percent now say it has too much sway.

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Are tea party groups more interested in purity or poking the bear?

Are tea party groups more interested in purity or poking the bear?

Conservative groups have lined up behind Ben Sasse in the Nebraska GOP Senate primary, making Sasse the latest in a long line of underdogs to earn the backing of groups whose calling card is upending more establishment-friendly (and often more moderate) candidates.

And according to much of the coverage of their actions -- and the groups involved -- it’s all about conservative purity.

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The tea party is breaking records, but not in a good way

The tea party is breaking records, but not in a good way

There’s some bad news for the tea party in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Just 26 percent of Americans say they hold a favorable view of the movement -- a record low.

It doesn’t end there.

Roughly one in three Republicans (34 percent) hold an unfavorable view of the tea party. So do 62 percent of independents.

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Is the tea party part of the GOP? Most Republicans say no.

Is the tea party part of the GOP? Most Republicans say no.

The latest Pew Research Center poll is chock full of data revealing an emerging rift between tea party-aligned Republicans and the rest of the party. But if there is one area of relative agreement, it’s this: a belief that tea party is independent from the GOP.

More than half of all Republicans (51 percent) say the the tea party is separate. Only about three in 10 say it is part of the Republican Party. Nearly equal shares of tea party Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (52 percent) and non-tea party Republicans and GOP-leaning independents (55 percent) say the movement is separate from the GOP.

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The tea party’s growing unhappiness with GOP congressional leaders, in 2 charts

The tea party’s growing unhappiness with GOP congressional leaders, in 2 charts

The Republican Party’s most conservative wing has become increasingly hostile toward GOP congressional leadership, a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday shows.

Fewer than three in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who agree with the tea party (27 percent) say they approve of the job GOP congressional leaders are doing. Roughly seven in 10 (71 percent) say they disapprove.

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Tea party privacy concerns skyrocket, poll finds

Tea party privacy concerns skyrocket, poll finds

A majority of tea party Republicans say anti-terrorism policies are going "too far" in restricting civil liberties, a complete reversal for a group who at its beginnings thought Washington was not being aggressive enough on terrorism.

The striking shift comes from a Pew Research Center poll released Friday that asked respondents which concerns them more about anti-terrorism policies: that they "have gone too far in restricting civil liberties" or "not gone far enough to protect the country." By 55 to 31 percent, more Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who agree with the tea party movement say civil liberties are the bigger concern. In 2010, by comparison, tea party Republicans broke by more than 3 to 1 in the opposite direction, 63 to 20 percent more concerned about not going far enough to protect the country.

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The tea party is alive and well in today's GOP

The tea party is alive and well in today's GOP

If you thought the Republican base was angry before, get ready for what could be a very interesting August recess.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are increasingly unhappy with their party's leadership -- a fact that should matter plenty in the looming debates over immigration and the debt ceiling.

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Could the IRS scandal reignite the tea party? Maybe.

Could the IRS scandal reignite the tea party? Maybe.

The Internal Revenue Service's decision to single out conservative groups for extra scrutiny has brought a fresh dose of attention to the tea party, a once thriving movement that has waned in the years since the 2010 GOP wave election.

Will the fact that the agency targeted groups with "tea party" and "patriot" in their names reignite the energy of limited-government activists and groups who have warned of the perils of overreach? Republicans both in and outside the movement think it could give them a boost on several fronts.

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The IRS's big admission: What it means

The IRS's big admission: What it means

The Internal Revenue Service dropped a bombshell on the political world Friday morning, acknowledging that it inappropriately targeted conservative political groups in the 2012 campaign, subjecting them to additional screening in their applications for tax-exempt status.



An IRS official told the Associated Press that low-level staff unjustly focused on groups with words like "tea party" and "patriot" in their name, and the groups were asked for donor information, likely in violation of IRS policy.

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House Democrats are itching for a tea party referendum. Will it work?

House Democrats are itching for a tea party referendum. Will it work?

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, the leader of House Democrats' campaign arm, sketched out his approach to the 2014 cycle on Wednesday, boiling it down to a simple guiding philosophy.

"2014 will be a referendum about one thing: tea party extremism. That's the deal. That's the campaign. That's the cycle," Israel declared.

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GOP freshmen: Even more tea party than 2010?

GOP freshmen: Even more tea party than 2010?

The Republican freshmen sworn into Congress this week might be even more tea party than the Tea Party Class of 2010.

The tea party influence on last year's primaries wasn't as big a story as it was two years prior, as the label lost its luster and the rallies stopped. But the anti-establishment fervor of that movement lives on in the crop of 35 Republicans joining the House.

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Is the tea party dead? Or just resting?

Is the tea party dead? Or just resting?

The tea party is at a crossroads.

Almost four years removed from its initial stirrings, the tea party movement finds itself riven by internal discord, without some of its most prominent leaders and faced with a party establishment that seems ready to abandon it -- or at least buck its wishes -- in the face of the 2012 election results.

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Saxby Chambliss's (GOP) primary concerns

Saxby Chambliss's (GOP) primary concerns

Sen. Saxby Chambliss's (R-Ga.) decision to publicly break with Grover Norquist last week has momentarily turned him into one of the top targets of the 2014 GOP primaries.

To a surprising extent, really.

In fact, even before Chambliss said in a local TV interview that he wouldn't be bound by Norquist's pledge to not raise taxes, a few members of the state's House delegation -- including Reps. Paul Broun and Tom Price -- were moving toward challenging him in a primary, as was former secretary of state Karen Handel.

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A truly harebrained scheme to prevent Obama's second term

A truly harebrained scheme to prevent Obama's second term

The election is over -- but not in the minds of a handful of true-believer conservatives.

A plot has been hatched over the last week to, in a last-ditch effort, deny President Obama a second term and install Mitt Romney as the next president.

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips argued in a column last week at World Net Daily that states that voted for Romney could simply boycott the Electoral College, thereby depriving it of the two-thirds quorum it needs to elect a president. At that point, the House of Representatives would pick the president. And guess who controls the House? The GOP.

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Orrin Hatch and why elections have consequences

Is the old Orrin Hatch back?


In this Thursday, June 28, 2012 photo, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talks with The Associated Press at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. With his re-election to a seventh term all but assured, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch can think about his legacy. He’s very clear about what he wants: a deal that restructures the tax code while also slowing and even stopping the government’s accumulation of debt. To get it, he says he’ll practice the art of compromise. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
The Utah Republican Senator, who survived a tea party challenge last month by focusing on his conservatism and voting in lockstep with his party’s ideological right wing over the last two years, appears to be shifting back into deal-maker mode, according to an AP report Monday. But Hatch’s spokeswoman is disputing the story.

Regardless, though, the situation proves that old political adage: Elections have consequences.

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Richard Hudson wins GOP nod to face Kissell

Former congressional aide Richard Hudson won the Republican primary runoff to face Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) on Tuesday, overcoming a conservative outsider candidate who was backed by the Club for Growth.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Hudson led dentist Scott Keadle 64 percent to 36 percent. The AP has called the race for Hudson.

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North Carolina runoff highlights GOP efforts to beat back outsider candidates

Tonight’s runoff in North Carolina’s 8th district features arguably the most contentious insider-versus-outsider House fight of the campaign to date. And the race says a lot about how the Republican party establishment has evolved in its effort to beat back tea party challenges.

Two years ago, dentist Scott Keadle would have been a favorite to beat former congressional aide Richard Hudson in tonight’s runoff for the right to face Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.). Keadle, after all, has the Club for Growth behind him, and Hudson is easily tied to an unpopular Washington.

Today, the tea party enthusiasm that swept people like Keadle into office (and past establishment favorites like Hudson in the primaries) has dissipated considerably.

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GOP freshmen = weak tea

Surprise, surprise: The Republican freshman class isn’t as tea party-friendly as you might think.

We’ve written before on this blog about how the tea party label has been misappropriated to cover all kinds of Republicans who won in 2010. While many latched onto the label or simply let others define them as such, the label wasn’t a great fit for many of them.


Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) may not be the tea partier you think he is. (Doug Murray/Reuters)

Suddenly, establishment Republicans who embraced conservative causes and opposed President Obama’s health-care legislation became known as tea partiers. John Boehner even called himself one.

Alas, most of them are not tea partiers. And supporters of the tea party movement are starting to take notice.

Case in point: the conservative Club for Growth issued a scorecard of the GOP freshmen class today and concluded that many of them haven’t lived up to their tea party billing.

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Sen. Richard Lugar loses primary to Richard Mourdock

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) lost his primary on Tuesday, becoming the latest Republican to fall victim to a tea party-fueled opponent.

Results early Tuesday night showed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock leading the six-term senator 61 percent to 39 percent with 40 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called the race for Mourdock.

Mourdock now becomes the GOP standard-bearer in a state where Republicans have a built-in advantage. But his nomination also opens the door a crack to Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat whose chances improve now that he doesn’t have to face the more moderate longtime incumbent.

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What the tea party has in common with Metta World Peace

What the tea party has in common with Metta World Peace

We dedicated our Monday Fix newspaper column to an analysis of whether the tea party was a fading force in American politics or whether it was as — or more — vibrant than ever.

Responses flooded in. (The tea party is kind of like Metta World Peace; you may like it/him, you may hate it/him but almost no one lacks an opinion on the subject.)

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Freedomworks accepts Mitt Romney

Freedomworks accepts Mitt Romney

Tuesday's Illinois primary didn’t end the Republican presidential race. But here’s a sign that not just delegates but conservatives are coming around to Mitt Romney: FreedomWorks, a major tea party-supporting group, has dropped its opposition to the former Massachusetts’ governor.

“It is a statistical fact that the numbers favor Mitt Romney,” FreedomWorks Vice President Russ Walker told the Washington Times. “We are dedicated to defeating Obama and electing a conservative Senate that will help Romney repeal Obamacare and address the nation’s economic and spending challenges.”

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Tea Party faces a turning point in 2012 Senate races

The tea party referendum has officially begun.

Despite the success of tea party candidates all over the country in 2010, many top GOP Senate candidates have avoided the same kind of tough insider-outsider primary matchups that made the summer of 2010 so
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) faces a tough primary challenge. (J. Scott Applewhite - AP Photo)
interesting. The latest is New Mexico Republican Heather Wilson, a moderate whose more-conservative opponent dropped out of the race this week.

But that doesn’t mean the tea party doesn’t have its chances this year.

The Club for Growth’s endorsement of Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock over Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) this week cements that race as the biggest tea party-versus-establishment Senate contest of the cycle. And it may set the tone for the rest of the year.

But there are six other tea party-versus-establishment races worth keeping an eye on. The Fix looks at each of them in chronological order.

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Why the tea party is responsible for Newt Gingrich

Why the tea party is responsible for Newt Gingrich

We may not be attributing Newt Gingrich’s rise to the tea party. But maybe we should.

Even as the movement’s influence in the GOP appears to have waned over the past year, there remains one major remnant of what happened in 2010: anti-establishment fervor.

The tea party spurred momentum and turnout for the GOP two years ago, but it also caused it some headaches in the primaries, turning aside candidates who were clearly favored by the party establishment in favor of conservative wild cards that went on to mixed results in November.

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A fracture between tea party and Republican party?

A fracture between tea party and Republican party?

As the tea party rose to political prominence in 2010, it became abundantly clear that the vast majority of those who identified themselves as members of the movement also saw themselves as Republicans.

The tea party then was best understood in that election not as the early stirring of a third party but rather a different way of describing the smaller government, lower taxes adherents that had been a part of the GOP coalition for ages.

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Tea party challengers set their sights on House incumbents

Tea party challengers set their sights on House incumbents

Emboldened by a number of victories over incumbents and establishment-backed candidates last cycle, Republican candidates across the country have set their sights on defeating GOP incumbents in 2012 primaries.

It’s way too early to tell how serious many of these candidates will turn out to be, and the vast majority of such primary challenges fizzle due to inability to raise money and a lack of political acumen.

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The Tea Party Express has a primary emphasis

The Tea Party Express has a primary emphasis

As evidenced by its co-sponsorship of last week’s GOP presidential debate in Florida, the Tea Party Express is emerging as a major voice in today’s Republican Party.

But is the group a team player when it comes to electing Republicans? And should it be?

A look at the group’s 2010 independent expenditures (IEs) – the bulk of the money it spent on individual races – shows a far greater amount went to picking the right Republican nominee than actually getting the candidate elected in the general election. In the end, the majority of the $2.7 million the group spent on IEs was in primaries.

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Live-blogging the Florida Republican debate

At 8 p.m. tonight, eight Republican presidential candidates will take the stage in Tampa, Florida for the fourth major debate of the 2012 race.


Republican presidential candidates sing the National Anthem before the CNN/Tea Party Debate. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Chris O'Meara - AP)
And the Fix will be bringing every minute, no, every second of the action to you in our live-blog. We’ll pregame around 7:30 pm — warming up our typing fingers and comic stylings for the 8 p.m. kickoff. (Speaking of kickoffs, we will also keep an eye on the Patriots-Dolphins game that starts at 7 pm.)

Never participated in one of our live blogs before? (Shame!) We like to think of it as “Mystery Science Theater 3000” but for politics. And without the robots.

Join us. It’ll be fun. If not, we’ll give you your money back.