An anonymous reader asks: “How do not so Conservative candidates like Romney/Ryan get picked with such huge influences like the Tea Party movement?”
How did the GOP end up with a seemingly moderate or weak conservative ticket in spite of the Tea Party’s influence? I assume you’re referring to economic conservatism, because both candidates are socially conservative (Ryan solidly, Romney squishily).
First, math: Tea Partiers do not constitute a majority of Republicans. But this alone doesn’t explain it, because moderates (e.g., Romney, at least during most of his career) also do not constitute a majority of Republicans.
Second, the Tea Party is relatively new, which means their favorite guys need to gain experience and exposure before they can reasonably be expected to make a worthwhile run for the White House.
I think that four of the GOP hopefuls could reasonably be called Tea Party favorites: Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry. Ron Paul was too libertarian and too much of a longshot to get much support from the rest of the GOP. The other three had fatal flaws as campaigners (aside from their other flaws): Bachmann looked and acted like an alien in a human costume, Cain was sunk by a sex scandal, and Perry was the worst debater on Earth. From the Tea Party’s perspective, it was a hastily and shoddily assembled field.
So most of the Republicans who were in a stronger position to run for President weren’t Tea Partiers, and never faced any real pressure to rein in government spending, thus they don’t have very conservative voting records on economic issues (Ron Paul’s the exception). But in 2016, there will probably be more Tea Partiers ready to run for President– either to succeed Obama or to challenge Romney in the primaries.