I am Journalism (And so can you!)
Tea Party candidates ran in tough congressional races all across the country. Scores won. Others, like Sean Bielat, had the courage to run in districts that were apparently unwinnable. Good on those candidates. Win or lose, we appreciate their heroic efforts.
But what does it really say about the Tea Party movement that candidates like John Dennis, Van Tran, Stephen Broden, Bill Marcy, and Anna Little were unable to pull off the upset victories for which we were hoping? Was it weak tea?
That's NBC's conclusion:
For all the talk of the Tea Party's strength - and there will certainly be a significant number of their candidates in Congress - just 32% of all Tea Party candidates who ran for Congress won and 61.4% lost this election.
In settled Congressional races, NBC identified 122 Tea Party candidates, 40 of whom won on election day. There are some big problems with this analysis. First is the question of how these candidates were chosen to carry the "Tea Party" label:
Identifying Tea Party candidates is undoubtedly inexact. Our criteria, generally, was to include anyone who has either been backed by a Tea Party group or has identified themselves as a member of the Tea Party movement.
Even a cursory examination of NBC's Tea Party list raises concerns. When compiling their list of Tea Party winners, NBC excluded many Tea Party Republicans, e.g., Kristi Noem, Scott Tipton, John Runyan, Dennis Ross, Mo Brooks, David Schweikert, Nan Hayworth, Alan Nunnelee, Steve Pearce, Scott Rigell, Lou Barletta, Daniel Webster, James Lankford, Chris Gibson, Chip Cravaak, Cory Gardner, Jeff Denham, Bill Huizenga, and Tim Huelskamp ... just to name a handful.
Why were these candidates excluded from the Tea Party winners list? Was it because they would have made the Tea Party look too good? In lieu of an explanation from the brainiacs at NBC, we can only speculate.
An examination of NBC's analysis of losers raises questions as well. If constituents mindlessly insist upon returning corrupt and idiotic incumbents like Eddie Bernice Johnson, Steve Cohen, Loretta Sanchez, Russ Carnahan and Hank Johnson to Congress in perpetuity, is that an unflattering reflection of the strength of their Tea Party opponents, or is it a indictment of the voters who live in those districts?
In scrutinizing NBC's method for identifying Tea Party candidates, bear in mind that as a matter of formal policy, many tea party groups don't endorse candidates, period. Also remember that there are strong defenders of the Tea Party agenda whose political careers predate the birth of the Tea Party (e.g. Jim DeMint, Mike Pence and Steve King). Do those members of Congress count as Tea Party winners? NBC left them out. Inexplicably, Michele Bachmann was included in NBC's list of Tea Party victors, but the rest of the congressional Tea Party Caucus was left out.
So there are big problems with the numerator and the denominator in NBC's Tea Party equation. Unfortunately, not very surprising...
A special "shout out" to Alexandra Moe for writing this Tea Party hit piece. Are you stupid, or are you a liberal activist? Either way, you're no literate journalist.
Update: Surprise! The New York Times uses the same fuzzy math.
Discussion at Memeorandum