Don Surber makes the point that the Tea Party didn’t really increase the GOP’s chances of picking up seats, in fact, it may have lessened the total number of pick-ups:
Nate Silver said the Tea Party cost Republicans Delaware, but may give Republicans Wisconsin. While Nate Silver contended that Republicans would have better odds in other states, there is no proof.
Fact is, Nate Silver has given Republicans the odds on retaining the 5 seats it already has in these 10 races (Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Utah) while chances of picking up 3 of the remaining 5.
In fact, he gives the Tea Party candidate a 92% chance of picking up Pennsylvania, a 72% chance of picking up Colorado, and a 52% chance of picking up Nevada.
You add to that a 100% chance of Republican pickups of Arkansas and North Dakota, a 98% chance of picking up Indiana and a 55% chance of picking up Illinois, and you have a net gain of 5 to 8 seats. Things would not be different without the Tea Party.
Come January, there likely will be 47 Republican senators — with 6 or 7 of them elected with the backing of the Tea Party.
That is a pretty good beginning for a disorganized collection of malcontents.
In short, the Tea Party has cost Republicans none of their seats they now hold (and likely Rand Paul runs stronger in Kentucky in November than Trey Grayson would have).
Looking to 2012, the Tea Party is in a better position than the Kos Krowd in 2006. The Kossers went 0-1. Tea Partiers at worst go 7-3, helping the party keep 5 seats while picking up 2.
The point, I think, it not purely numbers. Yes, the GOP might/probably/possibly would have won exactly the same _amount_ of seats with or w/o the Tea Party. However, I think it’s indisputable, the pick-ups and retains will be more CONSERVATIVE: which is, of course, the entire point of the Tea Party, not to elect Republicans, to elect conservatives, real ones.
So in that manner, the Tea Party is very successful, indeed.