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: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific