They did it in Utah, Texas, Kentucky, Delaware, and Indiana but the Tea Party isn't taking over the Republican Party in Tennessee, and it isn't going to beat longtime Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, no matter how much anti-establishment bravado it gins up.
And his lead over primary opponent and Tea Party fave Joe Carr isn't by an “edge,” as Politico reported. It's huge and likely insurmountable.
According to a memo from established polling expert Whit Ayres, president of North Star Opinion Research, the folksy Alexander holds a 70-percent-to-11-percent lead in conservative East Tennessee, where half the GOP primary vote comes from. Among “very conservatives,” he leads Carr 53 percent to 23 percent. In a head-to-head matchup, he leads three to one. Among Republicans he leads 69 percent to 14 percent.
And his favorability in the state he once governed? Among primary voters, it is 67 percent approve, 26 percent disapprove.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a challenging re-election race in neighboring Kentucky, should be so lucky as to have Alexander's “edge.”
“This campaign looks essentially the same today as it did last August,” wrote Ayres. “Given Senator Alexander’s universal name recognition, it will be very difficult for his opponents to move these numbers. Alexander remains in a very strong position to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.”
Tea Party groups believe they still have a chance, but it doesn't look good. Carr, for example, hasn't raised in his Senate race what he did in his recent House race.
But they have time. Hillary Pate, Carr's communication's director, said it's "laughable" to believe polling long before the primary election.
“In his 2002 primary, he consistently released polling showing a 40 percent point lead and the final results showed those assertions to be so far off base, they were laughable. Now he’s doing it again, claiming to be a conservative when he’s not, and claiming high levels of support while every other recent non-partisan poll shows plummeting approval ratings," she said in a statement to Secrets.
"In contrast, our authentically conservative campaign is building momentum and the solid support that will help us achieve victory on election day," added Pate.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.