There are two ways to classify the significance of every Republican primary victory by a Tea Party-aligned: (1) psychological; and (2) psychological and electoral.
The victory of Ted Cruz in Texas last night is a classic example of the first type. Whether Republicans nominated Cruz or his opponent, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, they were going to win in November. Texas is too GOP-friendly a state, especially in a presidential election year. Plus, there really was no ideological daylight between Cruz and Dewhurst; it would be hard to differentiate the men based solely on their issue positions, which hew to Tea Party norms of the Obama-era. So in terms of the November election, there will be no electoral implications.
But the Tea Party movement picked sides in the race anyway, lining up squarely behind Cruz. As Alex Seitz-Wald explained, this reflected the Tea Party’s preference for outsiders – Dewhurst, who ran with Governor Rick Perry’s backing, is a fixture of the state Republican establishment – as well as more pragmatic considerations, like Cruz’s relative youth (42 years old, to Dewhurst’s 66).
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