So far the most prominent 'Tea Party' candidates getting some traction in their respective GOP primaries don't look like general election liabilities. In Florida pollster.com's averages show Charlie Crist up 46-34 on Kendrick Meek and Marco Rubio actually winning by a slightly better 45-32 margin. In Kentucky an average of PPP and Rasmussen's most recent polls has Rand Paul up 45-38 on Jack Conway and 45-37 on Dan Mongiardo to Trey Grayson's leads of 42-37 and 47-35 over them. And our Texas poll this week found Debra Medina leading Bill White by six points, pretty much the same as Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry.
Now it should certainly be noted that voters don't really know Rubio, Paul, and Medina yet and it's possible that they could prove to be problem nominees for the GOP. At the same time Republican voters are so fired up right now and independents are so disenchanted with Democrats that I wouldn't write off the possibility of Republicans winning no matter who their nominee is in a lot of races this year, even in states/districts that are normally competitive. Simply put I'm not sure having 'Tea Party' nominees is going to be a big problem for the GOP.
What could be a big issue for Republicans though- as our Virginia 5 poll showed- is having tea party candidates who run as independents to the right of the GOP nominee. We found such a candidate pulling 19% of the vote, holding Robert Hurt to 27% and letting Tom Perriello win easily with 44%.
Here's the big question: should Democrats be giving financial assistance to these 'Tea Party' candidates to get on the ballot as independents? It may seem like an odd concept but Republicans certainly did it with Ralph Nader and that paid off for them. There are going to be a lot of races decided by 4 points or less this fall and right wing independents pulling 5% could get some Democrats reelected this year even if they can only pull 48% of the vote. I'd love to see a Democratic group formed that raises money to do mail and media for Tea Party candidates portraying them as the only 'real conservative' in the race- unconventional means might be necessary to save some seats this year.