I'm beginning to wonder wither the Tea Party movement. The Alaska split -- coming down tightly enough to already be raising specters of recounts -- suggests that the group, while certainly a groundswell, isn't entirely representative of the GOP's direction. The Beck rally was another sign: massive turnout from a group that doesn't exactly cohere with Tea Party goals, and certainly not with ur-Tea Party libertarianism.
Now another set of races might serve as spoilers -- if a far-right Tea Partier defeats a popular moderate, where does the party go? (We throw in as a matter of course the difference in Salon's definition of "moderate" and our own.)
But I think this report from Michigan's first district shows the real weakness of the movement -- with no defining leaders or core, the movement, when pushed, can find its own vicious civil wars and turn on itself. The movement has far too rigid an ideology, far too much stress on purity, and no mechanism for distinguishing outsiders from members.
Which leaves a very open question: where will they go in the general election? If a moderate Republican -- even a Paul Ryan, who hasn't directly associated himself with the Tea Party -- comes up against a Dem in November, will the Tea Party show up to the fight? Or will they stay home?