Well, to read the Wall Street Journal or to watch Fox News, you'd come away from the 2010 Elections with the overwhelming impression that the nation's most powerful kingmakers now were Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties.
The problem with that: Overall, less than half their candidates won. In the case of the Tea Parties, it was only a third or so.
Palin, appearing on Hannity last night, defended some of her higher-profile endorsement losses, which included Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Carly Fiorina, West Virginia's John Raese and her last-minute pitch for third-party candidate Tom Tancredo in Colorado.
Her biggest scores were Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio in Florida, John Kasich and Rob Portman in Ohio, Oklahoma's Mary Fallin, New Mexico's Susana Martinez, Texas' Rick Perry and Arizona's Jan Brewer -- nearly all of whom won for reasons well beyond Palin's endorsement. (Of course, the same could be said of her losses.)
MSNBC's First Read compiled the numbers, though by using only general-election results, it omitted two Palin failures in the primaries -- Clint Didier in Washington state and Todd Tiahrt in Kansas. Thus overall for the Senate, Palin made 13 endorsements, and only six of them won. Of her 40 endorsements in House races, only 19 won. She was really only successful in the gubernatorial races, where she made eight endorsements, and seven of them won.
So we can see that, while Palin's endorsement isn't exactly the Kiss of Death, it's certainly the Peck of Mediocrity.
Moreover, as Dave Weigel adroitly observes, Joe Miller's impending loss in Alaska is almost certainly the biggest political embarrassment of the season:
So, then... why would Palin be losing anything on her home turf? She bears exactly zero responsibility for the policies voters don't like. She has not held office for 16 months. She can't pull a candidate she campaigned for over the finish line against a write-in candidate? That's incredible.
Then there are the Tea Parties: As Alexandra Moe at First Read reports, they only elected 32 percent of their candidates:
For all the talk of the Tea Party's strength - and there will certainly be a significant number of their candidates in Congress - just 32% of all Tea Party candidates who ran for Congress won and 61.4% lost this election. A few races remain too close to call.
In the Senate, 10 candidates backed by the Tea Party ran and at least five were successful. (Race in Alaska has not yet been called.)
In the House, 130 Tea Party-backed candidates ran, and just 40 so far have won.
Some sober conservatives, like Fox News' John Tantillo, at least are having the courage to point out that the new kingmakers have no clothes:
The Tea Party was great in that it mobilized voters and raised important issues about our country’s direction that many of us –myself included— deeply care about.
But it failed in that the party –like all organized political movements—didn’t come close to any kind of sweep of elected office. In other words, there’s simply no mandate for Tea Party concerns and beliefs.
The most comforting aspect of this? Republicans are just about guaranteed not to listen. They have unleashed this populist beast, and it now is carrying them along for the ride. Hope they enjoy it.
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