So four debates for the U.S. Senate to replace the seat being vacated by Evan Bayh and what’s changed? To be frank, not a whole lot. Everyone said what they’ve said before and no one really strayed from the script. However, something did dawn on me between the end of the debate at Franklin College and debate hosted by the Indiana Debate Commission. I honestly think there is a really good chance for Dan Coats to walk away with the nomination and the Tea Party crowd will be responsible for his victory.
Take a deep breath, I’ll still be here.
Welcome back. Here’s the logic behind my previous statement. On a macro-level, Tea Party people by their very nature are not a top-down organization but more a grass roots collective of activists, in other words there are no leaders, more like coordinators. And because of that mindset, Tea Party groups are not likely to endorse any candidates, the best you can hope for is to win a straw poll.
Take that and add the fact they all have a disdain for anything with Washington attached to its name and Dan Coats, and to a lesser degree John Hostettler are not necessarily fan favorites. So where does that leave the Tea Party voter, to split his or her vote amongst Richard Behney, Don Bates, Jr., and Marlin Stutzman. You get enough people splitting votes…you see where this is going.
Now add in the fact that Coats has enough cash to not only be on television and radio across the state, but also he has enough cash to burn to show up on black gospel radio stations. And you can easily see how he can attract enough non-Tea Party voters to squeak out a victory. I’ve spoken privately a number of Tea Party activists who tell me they think/worry that Coats will win because they’re all divided over the other candidates.
Now I am not saying that the race is Coats’ to lose. There is still an x-factor in this race that’s larger than almost any I’ve ever seen in 20 years of covering politics. So anything can happen and it usually does. The point I’m making here is that the since the Tea Party movement hasn’t coalesced around one “non-Washington” candidate under this scenario Coats is the likely victor. Which would be ironic that the Tea Party people are so anti-Washington that by their own actions they indirectly elect someone with strong Washington ties.