Rand Paul Wins; Also, the Fate of the Tea Party

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 2 2010 7:23 PM

Rand Paul Wins; Also, the Fate of the Tea Party

LAS VEGAS -- Driving around here, I've noticed that many many minutes of talk radio are devoted to pre-gaming the days after a GOP win. How do Tea Partiers, if their candidates win the election, wrest power away from the "old bulls" of the GOP? How do they prove that it was their win, and not the GOP establishment's?

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Rand Paul's easy win in Kentucky gives them a lot of room to argue, but we won't find out for hours whether the other Tea Party hopefuls of 2010 can pull it out. If the Republican's U.S. Senate candidates lose in Nevada, Colorado and Delaware, then you're going to hear a chorus of Republicans blaming the activists. Remember that a big, sort of meaningless GOP goal for 2010 was taking over the seats of Reid, Biden, and Obama -- taking just one of those (Obama's) and failing to capture the Senate will sting. And so you could see a bizarre outcome where the party left for dead in 2008 roars back to win the House and 48 or 47 Senate seats, but fights among itself anyway.

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The last time this happened? Oh, four years ago, when some Democrats called for Howard Dean to leave the DNC even after the party captured Congress.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.