Leading article: Tea-time in Delaware

Share
Related Topics

Primary elections in the United States are almost always deceptive, but they can be dangerous, too. The unexpected victories for Tea Party candidates in this year's last bunch of Republican primaries are a bit of both. Candidates for this populist grassroots movement won, among others, the nomination to run for New York governor and the Senate nomination for the state of Delaware – a state of more importance than it small size suggests because so many major corporations have their headquarters there for tax reasons. Tea Party adherents had earlier won Senate nominations in states as far apart as Florida and Alaska.

To equate primary victories with actual congressional seats or governships, however, would be not only premature, but wrong. In presidential elections it is always said that in the primaries, candidates have to win over the party base – which means campaigning to the right or the left – whereas, with the nomination in the bag, they must do a fast switch and campaign from the centre. Barack Obama is a classic case in point.

The rule in congressional elections is no different. The trick for the nominees is now to campaign in such a way as to appeal to a much broader group of voters. And this is the real test. They have to show that their brand of populism has appeal beyond the many Republicans disillusioned with the lacklustre opposition put up to President Obama by the Republicans currently serving in Congress. In one way, it could be argued, the success of the Tea Party movement reflects the way in which Mr Obama has managed to occupy so much of the centre ground. This has left frustrated Republicans looking for distinctive policies and a distinctive voice, and finding it in Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

It is far too early to conclude, however, that the mainstream – left or right – has lost the fight. Small government, which is at the heart of the Tea Party movement's philosophy, may be a very American strain of thinking, but in austere economic times it could prove harder to sell. The Republican establishment also fears, not without reason, that Tea Party nominees could scare the voters and so forestall the landslide it is hoping for, come November.

Sarah Palin has down-home qualities that appeal to many Americans, and she should not be underestimated as a political force. The Republican right is yearning for leadership. But neither should she be built into a bogey-woman. She is a long way from being on a fast track to the White House in two years' time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there