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The Tea Party loss in Mississippi last week resurrected the oft-repeated notion that the Tea Party movement is dead, at least electorally if not completely. Once again, that notion misses the big picture. The Tea Party is still batting over .500 in contests where national groups have endorsed a primary candidate.

National Tea Party groups (including FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express, Patriot Action Network, Tea Party Patriots, and Tea Party Nation) have endorsed (80) eighty candidates in thirty-two states.  Fifty-five were running in primaries for the House of Representatives. Twenty-five ran in Senate primaries.  Those endorsed candidates have won (30) thirty primary races, lost twenty-three races, and qualified two for a run-off later this summer. That puts the Tea Party endorsed candidate batting average at .556 (a nearly 56 percent winning record), according to data collected at


In 2014 Tea Party endorsed candidates in Republican primaries for U.S. Senate have won ten races and lost ten races, which puts them at .500 (or 50 percent).

Included in those numbers are races in seven states where multiple candidates were endorsed by different Tea Party groups. For instance, in Nebraska, both Ben Sasse and Shane Osborn were endorsed by different national factions (Sasse won).  Put another way, in ten of the fourteen states that national Tea Party groups have endorsed a candidate in the primary, they have been victorious.

There are more Senate races to come. Three Tea Party endorsed candidates await primaries, and there are two endorsed candidates who aren’t even on the ballot in 2014.

Tea Party-endorsed candidates can certainly win statewide contests against “establishment” candidates, as this data shows.

House of Representatives

In House primaries, Tea Party endorsed candidates fared even better. To date, Tea Party endorsed candidates have been involved in primaries in twenty-two states. They have won twenty primaries in fourteen different states, lost thirteen races in thirteen states, and qualified for an upcoming runoff in two other contests in Georgia.

Setting aside the two runoff elections, that puts their batting average at .606 (or nearly a 61 percent win record). This number does not include victories like David Brat over Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th congressional district, as none of the national Tea Party factions endorsed Brat in the primary.

Unlike the Senate contests, there were no contests were Tea Party candidates clashed with each other. There are still twenty primaries yet to come that include Tea Party endorsed candidates.

Often when Tea Party endorsed candidates lose on Election Day, they have succeeded at tilting the conversation to the far-right.  The point of distinction between Tea Party and “establishment” candidates has been of style rather than substance in more than one case.

Devin Burghart

Author Devin Burghart

is vice president of IREHR. He coordinates our Seattle office, directs our research efforts, and manages our online communications. He has researched, written, and organized on virtually all facets of contemporary white nationalism since 1992, and is internationally recognized for this effort. Devin is frequently quoted as an expert by print, broadcast, and online media outlets. In 2007, he was awarded a Petra Foundation fellowship. more...

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