While we have state and elections here in Virginia coming up in November, there has already been a lot of attention giving to the races in 2012 and beyond. With that in mind, PPP released a poll yesterday that showed George Allen with a huge lead in the Republican primary for US Senate.
Despite the fact that we’ve seen the Tea Party taking over the Republican Party all across the country, Allen appears to have been able to ward off any serious challenges from the far right. In fact, Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke only has 6% of the vote and the poll also shows him with a 58-23 lead over a “a generic more conservative challenger.”
While the Tea Party candidates aren’t doing well in the Senate race, it would be wrong to assume this means the Virginia GOP has escaped being taken over by the extreme right. It looks like Jaime Radtke’s low numbers aren’t because of her political philosophy, for instance, but because of a poor campaign. Despite being in the race for months, 77% of those polled (likely GOP primary voters) didn’t have an opinion of her candidacy. Even some political insiders that I’ve talked to on both sides of the aisle said they either didn’t know much about her, if anything at all. And those who did, weren’t very impressed (a concept that’s also supported by the polling). This tells me that George Allen’s name recognition and lack of quality opposition are why he’s going to get the GOP nomination -- not because the Tea Party likes him.
The polling PPP did in other races, however, does suggest that the Tea Party has a strong influence over the Virginia GOP. I say this because a hypothetical match up between Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling for Governor in 2013 has Cuccinelli leading 45-23 an Michelle Bachmann has the lead in the presidential primary. Plus, Rick Perry also has his strongest showing outside of Texas here in Virginia. This is important because the top of the ticket in 2012 and 2013 will have a very strong influence the debate in other races going on. In other words, George Allen will likely have to cater to the far right and associate with the Tea Party if he wants to get his party’s base excited about his candidacy too next year.