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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor