First of all, if the Tea Party is able to convince the GOP caucus to ban earmarks, even for a few years, that would be awesome. The Tea Party is genuinely extreme in a number of ways, but the earmark issue is something that doesn’t neatly fit into the left to right one dimensional map… its more of a litmus test for how much people are okay with corruption.
But the real reason the Tea Party groups are proving to be a boon for independents is it is speeding up the exodus of moderates from their party, and more specifically it could lead to major defection in coming years from the likes of Scott Brown and Susan Collins.
Both of these are classic moderates… more conservative on fiscal issues and more moderate on social issues (in general). If there were a centrist party that had a reasonable big tent, they’d be standing around the right side of the tent, and that would be a tent I’d be proud to be a part of.
Speaking of Brown’s situation in Massachusetts in 2012, Politico has this to say:
What Brown has going for him is this: He has consistently posted high favorability ratings, unlike Baker and other losing Republicans this year. He’s running as the incumbent, while Democrats will be fighting each other through a late, September primary. His trips this year as a campaign surrogate have taken him to essential fundraising destinations from Chicago to Burbank, and he had nearly $7 million stockpiled at the end of September.
“If you’re looking at this, if you’re the Brown folks, there’s nothing in these numbers that should really scare you, like there’s some shift in the electorate. The anti-Democrat, anti-Beacon Hill vote is still there,” argued one Republican involved in the state, noting that Brown “remains extremely popular. His biggest challenge is just the turnout you’re going to have in a presidential year.”
And according to one line of thinking, even Brown’s status as an extreme political outlier could actually end up being an asset as much as a liability.
Regardless, its good to have a moderate like him in office, and the way things look, we’ll either get to keep him in there as one of the few moderating voices left in the GOP, or perhaps get even luckier and see him run a Lincoln Chafee like campaign as an independent.