Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

You remember the great Tea Party wave of 2010. That's when Sarah Palin, in a last grasp at political relevance, crisscrossed the United States in support of a new wave of populist Republicans vowing to take their country back and keep the government's hands off Medicare, a health program for seniors that just happened to be run by the government.

Voters never got the irony in that. Republicans gained 63 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of the lower chamber in the biggest sweep in more than 60 years, and picked up six more seats in the Senate. No matter that the election of Class of 2010 led to the internecine warfare between mainstream and Tea Party Republicans that eventually cost House Speaker John Boehner his job. The GOP victory that November effectively ended Barack Obama's hopes of becoming a transformational president. His legislative agenda was dead. Gridlock ensued.

You can draw a straight line from that Tea Party election, which launched the populist challenge to the GOP establishment, and the rise of Donald Trump. But in a karmic demonstration of what-goes-around-comes-around in politics, the monster the Tea Party enabled now threatens to undo the fortunes of the Class of 2010. Mr. Trump, the Ripley's-worthy GOP nominee, risks being such a drag on down-ballot candidates that many of the Republicans swept in by the Tea Party wave could be swept out in an anti-Trump tsunami in November.

Story continues below advertisement

Of course, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's lead in the opinion polls, nationally and in key swing states, has shrunk quite a bit since her August postconvention bounce. Nagging voter doubts about one's honesty, reinforced by one's endless lack of forthrightness about one's e-mails, will do that to a candidate. Nagging doubts about Ms. Clinton's health, fed by her near-collapse Sunday, could drag her further down in the polls.

Still, Mr. Trump's unpopularity threatens to make one-term senators out of as many as half a dozen politicians who rode the 2010 Tea Party wave to Congress, more than enough to hand control of the upper chamber to the Democrats. Senators such as New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte and Mark Kirk of Illinois were never card-carrying Tea Partiers, but would likely never have won their seats without the insurgent populist energy that drove Republicans to the polls in 2010. Mr. Kirk's victory was particularly sweet for the GOP, since he won Mr. Obama's former Senate seat.

This time, Mr. Kirk is cutting his ties to the pitchfork crowd as fast as he can. He insists he will not vote for his own party's nominee, whom he has called "too racist and bigoted for the Land of Lincoln." He has run TV ads reminding voters that he "bucked his party to say Donald Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief." It's a strategy that carries its own risks in alienating Mr. Trump's core supporters. And it probably won't work, anyway. Mr. Kirk is likely to lose his seat.

Just as improbably, Ms. Ayotte is trying to have her cake and eat it, too. She says she will vote for Mr. Trump, but not endorse him, whatever that means. Though she is well-liked, Ms. Ayotte is fighting for her political life against the state's Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, and a rush of anti-Trump sentiment. It will be a miracle if she survives.

The same anti-Trump mood threatens to doom Wisconsin's Ron Johnson and Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, both ardent Tea Party supporters in 2010. An open Senate seat in Indiana that the GOP won in 2010 also looks set to return to the Democratic fold this year. So far, however, incumbent GOP Senators Marco Rubio and Rob Portman look strong in the swingiest states of them all, Florida and Ohio, respectively.

Still, most number crunchers predict the Democrats will retake the Senate, depriving the GOP of a united congressional front against a Clinton White House. The combination of districts gerrymandered to favour the GOP and the concentration of Democratic support in urban areas should limit GOP House losses to about 20 seats. It would likely take a wave election, with Ms. Clinton winning the presidency by more than six percentage points, to flip the House, too.

A Democratic hat trick – with the party winning the White House and both chambers in Congress – is still a possibility, however. It would mean the difference between a Clinton presidency that picks up where the Obama agenda stalled in 2010 and the unsatisfying (for Democrats) triangulation that characterized Bill Clinton's tangles with a GOP House. If only it weren't for those damn e-mails.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies