Leading article: Tea-time in Delaware

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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living