There are those who say that the tea party is fading in influence, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the movement is on the cusp of achieving what once seemed nearly impossible: keeping the Senate Democratic.
A year ago, famed political handicapper Charlie Cook gave Republicans a 60 percent to 70 percent likelihood of capturing control of the Senate; now, he tells me the likelihood of it remaining Democratic is 60 percent.
The switch in fortunes can be attributed to many causes — a slate of lackluster Republican candidates high among them — but one thing is beyond serious dispute: If not for a series of tea party upsets in Republican primaries, the Republicans would be taking over the Senate majority in January.
In the 2010 cycle, tea party candidates caused the Republicans to lose three Senate seats easily within their grasp: Sharron Angle allowed Democratic leader Harry Reid to keep his seat in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell handed Joe Biden’s former seat right back to the Democrats in Delaware, and a tea party favorite in Colorado, Ken Buck, lost a seat that was his to lose.