Unless there's been a big shift in the final week of the campaign in Texas it appears that Debra Medina will fall well short of making a Republican runoff.
A 20% performance for Medina would still be impressive, given the two political titans she's facing off against. But her lack of sustained momentum after peaking at 24% in our polling three weeks ago will also show several limitations of the 'Tea Party' movement:
1) Just as we saw with Patrick Hughes in Illinois if you can't compete with the big boys financially, you can't compete with the big boys, period. Perry and Hutchison have had the funds to saturate the airwaves and Medina hasn't, and that's why her name recognition was still under 50% on our final poll of the Texas race. These Republican insurgents may not need a ton of money to make some noise, but they do need a ton of money to actually win anything. Without the interference of the Club for Growth or some similarly deep pocketed group Medina never had a chance.
2) Republican voters may be more open to candidates from outside the mainstream of their party this year but there's a limitation to how far outside the mainstream you can be and still hope to get some traction. 79% of Texas Republicans have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush. So Medina made a big mistake by allowing the perception to be created that Bush's administration may have had something to do with 9/11. Tea Party candidates need to be able to avoid the 'kook' label if they're going to be successful- it will be interesting in Kentucky to see if some of Rand Paul's past statements end up really hurting him the way Medina's did her.
For all the hype about the Tea Party movement I think it's entirely possible Marco Rubio will end up being the only candidate associated with it to win a major primary this year- that will certainly be the case if its folks don't start raising more money.