Thanks to President Obama's reelection, the Tea Party's clout has drastically weakened over the past few months. During the fiscal cliff debate, Tea Party leaders have notably taken to the sidelines, preferring to remain silent over the issue.
As reported by the New York Times, Tea Party activists are skirting the fiscal showdown in Congress and "turning to fringe issues, raising questions about whether the movement still represents a citizen groundswell to which attention must be paid."
They are asking states to nullify the national health care law they wanted repealed if Mitt Romney had won the November election. Also, they are looking at raising support for their "fraud" accusations by local election boards that, they believe, let the Democrats steal the November vote.
Tea Party leaders are barely making a squeak about the fiscal cliff debate. “We’re sitting back’’ on the fiscal cliff, said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest tea party group. Republicans in Congress, she said, “have proven they’re not going to listen to us,’’ noting that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is a “cave man” for his willingness to consider tax increases, as the Washington Post writes.
The Times writes surveys of voters leaving the polls last month showed support for the Tea Party had decreased heavily from 2010, when a surge of recession-fueled anger over bailouts, federal spending and the health care overhaul won the Republicans a majority in the House.
Some columnists believe the Tea Party has "also undermined efforts by the GOP to position itself as the party of governance rather than the party of extremism," according to Julian Zelizer writing for CNN. "The demand to remain ideologically pure has consistently pushed Republican leaders to move to avoid saying yes to almost anything, preventing House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from cutting deals."
If there's any sure sign Tea Party activists are facing challenging times ahead, look no further than the incoming chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Jerry Moran,. He promised that his organization will become more involved in senatorial primaries to prevent the nomination of Tea Party candidates who are likely to lose in statewide elections. “I don’t think we have any choice but to work to do things better than what we did, based upon the lack of success that we had.” Moran said.