Newswise — The Tea Party’s impact on politics this fall is not dissimilar to the movement that propelled President Barack Obama to the White House, according to Larry Butler, chair of Rowan University’s Department of Political Science.
“We’re seeing,” says Butler, “a similar phenomenon to what you saw in 2008 on the left.”
Like the ’08 Democrats, the Tea Party movement is propelled by “anger and energy,” according to Butler.
But the jury is still out on how the Tea Party will impact “politics as usual” in Washington, D.C., according to Butler, who says Christine O’Donnell’s victory over incumbent Mike Castle in the Delaware GOP Senate primary last week was both surprising and fascinating.
“We have seen the Tea Party prevail in individual races, but does it have the organizational muscle to determine the outcome of a national election?” says Butler. “Conversely, will Democrats be able to use the victory of O'Donnell and other Tea Party candidates to galvanize their base voters around the country?"
There are other pressing questions for the November election, according to Butler.
“It will be interesting to see to what extent the Republicans will be able to take advantage of a political wave,” Butler says. “Will they be able to win majorities in Congress and, if so, how big?
“Also, what kinds of Democrats will lose?” he continues. “Will they be moderates in conservative districts or those who have voted consistently with their party? Finally, how many Tea Party Republicans will win…and how will they react to their Congressional leaders?
“The answers to those questions will have a lot of implications for the directions the parties will take in the next few years,” Butler adds.