Newt Gingrich’s fast Florida fade is the latest indication that the Tea Party is losing its grip on the GOP, with the establishment poised to triumph once again.
An official endorsement Saturday night from last year’s Tea Party standout, Herman Cain; an all-but-official backing from longtime Tea Party darling Sarah Palin; and the support of the Tea Party Express have not lifted Gingrich back over Mitt Romney in the Florida polls. That weakened clout has been accompanied by the Republican establishment’s full-throttle charge at Gingrich’s past — to great effect with the primary here just one day away.
It’s a stunning twist of fate for the GOP, which just 18 months ago was mired in intraparty battles that gave rise to the grass-roots movement, and which had been desperately seeking anyone but Mitt Romney in the presidential race to satisfy its hard-right turn. Still, if Romney wins here on Tuesday and goes on to clinch the nomination in the coming weeks or months, it may not settle the question of whether he has quieted the Tea Party faithful heading toward the general election.