In the wake of electoral defeats in Virginia, Alabama and Florida, Tea Party conservatives aren't backing down and Republican conservatives appear to be doubling down, intent to not lose their base of support in the South.
Several Republican Senators appear vulnerable of teabagging in the primaries, notably Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell. These conservative stalwarts have recently been viewed as sellouts. McConnell especially for reaching an 11th hour deal with Harry Reid to lift the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. Graham was also an outspoken critic of the shutdown. Fortunately for both of them, they seem to be facing an onslaught of Republican challengers who will most likely cancel each other out. Still, it is a taxing process, and one that could hurt McConnell in the general election as he faces a strong Democratic challenger in Alison Lundergan Grimes.
So, what have we learned? Not much it seems. Despite Chris Christie's clear victory in New Jersey, Republicans across the country and particularly those in the South aren't ready to embrace moderation. Far from it, they see the bumpy roll out of Obamacare as their prime target in 2014, and plan to beat this "dead horse" once again. Tea Party conservatives firmly believe Cuccinelli would have won in Virginia if he had one more week. They seem to forget Tea Party candidates also lost in Alabama and Florida. In Florida, the former Republican state house representative actually endorsed the Democratic challenger over Teabagger Bill Gunter. But, the TP sees the narrow defeats as "moral victories," especially since Cuccinelli was outspent 10-1 by McAuliffe in the final stretch. Andrew Kohut reinforced this message in a recent WSJ op-ed piece, offering a few numbers in a feeble attempt to bolster his case.
Once again, religious conservatives view these as tactical losses. They still firmly believe they have the "moral majority" on its' side, forcing Congressmen like Marco Rubio to reaffirm his Christian conservative values by keynoting a fundraiser for a virulent anti-gay Family Policy Council. Rubio rode the crest of the Tea Party wave into Congress in 2010 and obviously has to show contrition after supporting a highly contentious immigration reform bill that remains stalled in Congress.
For their part, McConnell and Graham are leading the filibuster against Obama's judicial nominations, all women with presumed liberal agendas. Graham had been called out by conservatives in South Carolina for going soft on Kagan and Sotomayor. No more Mr. Nice Guy.