The results are in from Tuesday's state primary elections. Six states—Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—held primaries yesterday, with Republican races overwhelmingly leading to triumph for moderate and incumbent candidates over anti-establishment and Tea Party types.
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell beat Tea Party-backed candidate Matt Bevin by 24 percentage points. In Idaho's Republican House primary, Rep. Mike Simpson—backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and House Speaker John Boehner—defeated Tea Party challenger Bryan Smith.
Mitt Romney-backed candidates were victorious in both Pennsylvania and Oregon, with incumbent Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennvylania) defeating retired Coast Guard Captain Art Halvorson and Oregon moderate Monica Wehby winning her bid for GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.
And in Georgia, Republicans narrowed a crowded Senate primary field, with management consultant and Reebok CEO David Perdue and incumbent Rep. Jack Kingston coming out on top (they'll face each other now in a July runoff). Losers included Sarah Palin-endorsed candidate Karen Handel and several far-right candidates.
"In 2014, the tea party insurrection is starting to look more like the Boston Massacre," Politico's Alexander Burns quipped. The New Yorker noted that Karl Rove was smiling last night. Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins called the GOP elections a win for "Romney Republicanism," noting that Mitt Romney had endorsed victors Simpson, Shuster, and Wehby.
[For Romney allies] it is vindicating to see midterm candidates win while touting his endorsement, and adopting, to various extents, his trademark strain of corporate, practical conservatism. Wehby's candidacy, in particular, is reminiscent of Romney's 1994 Massachusetts Senate bid—a young, articulate political newcomer running in a blue state by touting private-sector credentials and a center-left position on abortion. (Wehby says she is personally opposed to abortion, but doesn't believe the federal government should restrict access to it.)
The Washington Post said the real winner yesterday was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The pro-business organization has been aggressively working to weaken Tea Party influence in the Republican party and prop-up more business-as-usual friendly candidates:
The country's largest business lobby broke with tradition over the past year by taking sides in Republican primary election contests, spending millions to back establishment candidates against tea party challengers.
The Chamber has spent more than $12 million in races around the country and came through Tuesday night's primaries with an undefeated record.
An anonymous Republican operative told National Journal that "the tea party as a brand is dead in general elections," and "on death's door in primaries."
But at The Atlantic, David A. Graham is skeptical:
So here's what this tells us about the Tea Party-establishment war, and what my colleague Molly Ball calls The Dynamic, the national theme that explains all races: Probably not much. What it shows is that it's not enough to challenge an incumbent from the right in a red state. It's not even enough for the incumbent to be very vulnerable. The two cases where Tea Party candidates unseated sitting senators—Mike Lee in Utah and Richard Mourdock in Indiana—have come when the incumbent was caught off-guard and the challenger was a strong candidate.
Thirteen states and D.C. have now held primary elections in 2014. Earlier this month, Tea Party candidates suffered losses in Ohio and North Carolina primaries.