The Tea Party gives Democrats an opening nationally

At the beginning, many thought the Tea Party was like your daffy uncle. The one with the awkward manner, crude jokes, too loud at those holiday dinners.

Some underestimated the power of the Tea Partiers, their enthusiasm, their ability to win primaries.
 
Rand Paul was an aberration within the Republican Party, some said. But then came Utah, and Nevada, and Colorado, and Florida, and Alaska, and Connecticut, and New York and Delaware. All in all, the National Republican Senatorial Committee lost eight of its preferred nominees.
 
All this may be good for Sarah Palin and her ability to “pick ’em,” as she would say, but the bigger question is, What does this do to the Republican brand, and what does it do to their chances in November?
 
Some argue that the enthusiasm these candidates bring to this election cycle outweighs the baggage many of them have. Some are unafraid of the growing label “extreme, not mainstream” that is sticking to the Republican Party.

Some, even, are choosing to ignore the serious fissure within the party.
 
Republicans learned absolutely nothing from NY-23, where the Democrats took a seat precisely because of the fracture between moderates and the Tea Party. This is much less about principle than it is about nominating people who are totally incompetent, in some cases ethically challenged, who run their mouths but cannot run much else.
 
Sad for the Republicans, but make no mistake: This is a potentially huge opening for the Democrats. And not just in individual races such as Delaware or Colorado or Connecticut or Nevada.
 
This has gone from an isolated curiosity to a national trend for Republicans. This is defining who they are. This may help Sarah Palin as an individual candidate, as the über-Mama Grizzly, but it is harmful to the Republicans this November and beyond.
 
It makes them the party of outliers, the fringe party, the party of the Becks, the Hannitys, the Limbaughs. This is not a long-term winner, trust me. In fact, if Democrats are smart and make this the 2010 Republican brand, this November may look a heck of a lot better for Democrats than it does right now.

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