Two new articles out this week portray the Tea Party as a weakened brand that no longer has the clout it did just two years ago, when it helped the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives.
According to The New York Times, the last election severely diminished the Tea Party. The Washington Post points out that the Tea Party caucus of the Republican Party has had a limited role in negotiating a fiscal cliff deal with the Obama Administration.
Both may be true, but as Steve Kornacki points out, the Tea Party "mindset" has already infiltrated the Republican Party. Case in point: House Speaker John Boehner had to scrap plans to bring his "Plan B" to the floor for a vote, after Tea Party members protested the bill's proposal to raise taxes on those making more than $1 million. The failure of the bill highlights the Tea Party's power over the Republican Party to oppose any tax increase, even if it's on just a small percentage of the population.
"They're afraid to vote for any kind of tax increase," said Kornacki on NOW With Alex Wagner.
The fear among Republicans is that if they don't fall in line with Tear Party orthodoxy, they'll face a primary challenge in the next election.