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The diffuse collection of groups and individuals who made up the Tea Party movement was unique in the history of American populism, as it seemed to draw strength from its ability to “stick apart.” The absence of a central organizing structure was cited as proof of the Tea Partiers’ grassroots credentials, but it also meant that the movement’s goals and beliefs were highly localized and even personalized.
Nonetheless, the Tea Party proved its influence at the polls.
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While these contests constituted some of the most conspicuous individual examples of Tea Party influence, the 2010 midterm elections saw the Republicans gain approximately 60 seats to take control of the House and reduce the Democratic majority in the Senate.
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Dark-horse candidate Martha Coakley, in a race that shifted the balance in the Senate, depriving the Democrats of the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority they had held since July 2009. Paul defeated Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s secretary of state and the favoured choice of Senate minority leader and Kentuckian Mitch Mc Connell, in a race that was widely seen as a repudiation of the Republican Party establishment. The November 2010 midterms promised to be a referendum as much on the Tea Party as on President Obama, particularly as the push-pull relationship between the Tea Party and the Republican Party continued.
In May 2010 the Tea Party exerted its influence again, this time in Kentucky, where Rand Paul, son of former Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, won the Republican primary for a seat in the U. Across the country, dozens of Tea Party-affiliated candidates won the Republican nominations for their respective U. In some states Tea Party candidates won endorsement from local Republican groups, while in others they provoked a backlash from the Republican establishment.