Tea Party Still Winning GOP Debate

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro,

from NBCNews,

Why the Tea Party is still winning… And why GOP incumbents are going to have to fight tooth and nail to hold on to their jobs …

Yes, some of the more prominent establishment Republicans (John Cornyn, Pete Sessions, Greg Abbott) won their primaries on Tuesday. And, yes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems well positioned to win his in May. But if you want to see signs that the Tea Party is winning right now — and that McConnell and other Senate Republicans facing primary challenges possibly will have to fight for their political lives — just look what has transpired over the past week. While Cornyn won his primary and avoided a run-off, 41% of Texas Republicans still voted for someone else.

Then look at the other results from Texas: The VERY conservative Dan Patrick seems poised to become the state’s next lieutenant governor, and a handful of incumbent GOP state legislators lost to primary challengers. And then yesterday, we saw McConnell raise a rifle at CPAC, suggesting that he needed a stunt to win over the conservative crowd.

Why are we pointing these things out? Because if you thought Sen. Lindsey Graham was going to coast in his June 10 GOP primary, you need to think again. If 41% of Texas Republicans voted against Cornyn when he was facing a clown-car of candidates, how many South Carolina Republicans will vote against Graham, who has voted for President Obama’s Supreme Court picks and been a key author of comprehensive immigration reform? Bottom line: Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, and Thad Cochran look MORE vulnerable today than they did last week.

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