Politico reports that in Virginia's 5th Congressional District Tea Party activist Jeffrey Clark will run as an independent if moderate Republican Robert Hurt wins his party's nomination to take on Tom Perriello.
How serious would a Clark candidacy be? When we polled the district in early February we found that a generic Tea Party candidate would pull 19%. Perriello received 44% and Hurt 27% in such a scenario.
We also polled the GOP primary on that survey and this finding puts into context just how much of an aversion there is to Hurt among the Republican voters who don't support him- among folks who had made up their mind for the primary and decided to vote for someone other than Hurt only 38% said they'd vote for him in the general election compared to 42% who said they'd rather vote for a Tea Party candidate.
Do I really think Clark would pull 19%? No. But Perriello has held up pretty well so far given the political climate and the nature of his district, and even if 48% is the best he can get to in an off year election that would still put him over the top if Clark got just 5% from Hurt's disaffected supporters. Republicans are doing a good job of getting on the same page after the primary in most races this year but this is certainly one where the failure to do so could give Democrats a victory they might not otherwise get.