Only two years ago, the Tea Party transformed the political landscape and helped the Republicans capture the House. Bachmann was even a semi-serious candidate for the Republican nomination. But back then the Tea Party was defined by fiscal conservatism. In the last couple of years, it’s become increasingly redefined by radical social conservatism. Mourdock said in a debate that the victim of a rape should keep her baby because it’s “God’s will.” Akin talked about “legitimate rape.” West referred to some liberals as “communists.” Bachmann made her evangelicalism a key part of her presidential campaign. And poor old Scott Brown – who was actually socially liberal – got tarred with the same brush. It’s interesting to note how relatively poorly Romney did with women, which may have coloured the results in local races, too.