AP, CNN: Tea Party 'Comes Up Short' in Primaries, But No Challenger in OH

May 6th, 2010 5:36 PM
Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor; & Jessica Yellin, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.org

CNN and the Associated Press on Wednesday and Thursday touted how the tea party movement apparently didn't get motivate voters to turn out and "throw out the bums" in Republican primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. Both outlets, however, omitted how senate candidate Rob Portman ran unopposed in his primary race in Ohio.

Anchor Rick Sanchez brought on CNN national political correspondent Jessica Yellin during a segment 21 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of his Rick's List program on Wednesday. After noting how Democratic Representative David Obey, a "partisan brawler," was retiring, and how "Sarah Palin and tea party influences" might be "running some of these rascals out of office," Sanchez turned to Yellin and asked her about the results: "Those allegedly angry voters could have stormed the polls in droves and thrown out the bums. They would have all been there in big numbers, and they're going to get rid of the incumbents, get rid of the old hacks. So, did that happen?"

Yellin gave a very generalized answer, indicating that the tea party activists just didn't show up:

YELLIN: It's interesting, Rick. Yesterday's elections showed that there was very limited turnout. One of the things we have heard is that the tea party movement was going to energize the base, stoke up turnout, especially on the Republican side. And in the key Republican races- there were two in Indiana especially- the incumbents won. Now, their margin of victory was more narrow, but the tea party movement didn't throw the bums out, as you said. So, it's still to be determined whether they will have a huge influence in November.

She continued that the winners of the primaries were "either...incumbents or were already officeholders in a different office. The big difference is, none of these folks...was targeted...by the tea party as one of their top people they want to take down....[I]t is very meaningful and worth noting that the two targets they did [target] have survived...and so, you got to ask, how much muscle are they going to have come November, when they say they're going to take down some Democrats?"

Later on Wednesday, just after the beginning of her 8 pm program, CNN anchor Campbell Brown highlighted the "signs that tea party candidates may not quite be voters' cup of tea. Two of three hard fought Senate primaries yesterday in Indiana and Ohio went to mainstream Republican candidates- Ohio's race yet to be decided, but the Republican establishment not breathing a sigh of relief just yet." She then played clips from the earlier Sanchez/Yelling segment.

All three CNN personalities mentioned Ohio, but didn't mention anything specific about Portman going unchallenged. They also omitted that another "incumbent," former Indiana Senator Dan Coats, who is runnng for Evan Bayh's old seat, has a lifetime ACU rating of 90%, so he's not exactly unfriendly to the stances of the tea party movement.

On Thursday, the AP's David Espo mirrored CNN's reporting by trumpeting how the "Tea party comes up short in early primaries." Espo also failed to mention the Portman's lack of a challenger, which, as the Washington Times pointed out on Thursday, was "a scenario that doesn't push votes to the polls."

Mark the first round down, shakily, for Republican incumbents and party establishment favorites.

With one race in Ohio yet to be settled, tea party-backed challengers and other outsiders were shut out in competitive House and Senate primaries across three states on Tuesday, the busiest night so far in an election season of optimism for Republicans.

While some of Tuesday night's Republican primary winners struggled to prevail — former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats' comeback bid advanced with 40 percent of the vote in a five-way race — the results renewed a debate about the clout of the insurgents in the remaining primaries and on elections this fall....

Six months before the midterm elections, and with the country trying to shake off the effects of a deep recession, polls show a disaffected electorate, angry at incumbents and highly skeptical of government's ability to solve their problems. As a result, even Democrats concede Republicans are in line to make gains this fall, when 36 seats in the Senate and all 435 in the House are on the ballot.

"The big question is whether the tea party is a tempest in a teapot. Do they have the organizational capabilities to compete with the Republicans?" said John Feehery, who advised former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and is a Republican strategist.

"They're not organized and it's unclear to me whether they are going to be a force that is going to challenge the more establishment Republicans in primaries," he added.