The tea party is now officially part of the legitimate political scene. How do we know? After the movement's electoral victories last night, the bickering that goes with political victory has begun. As the various tea party groups try to read the tea leaves from last night, the infighting that marked marked the movement's emergence onto the scene has spilled over into the post-election euphoria.
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First, let's take a look at how well the tea party candidates fared last night. Though many of their high-profile Senate nominees -- Sharron Angle in Nevada, Joe Miller in Alaska, Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware -- appear to have come up short in the final tally, the tea party has a lot to be proud of. Kentucky's Senator-elect, Rand Paul, is about as tea party as they come and will likely serve as a vocal mouthpiece for the movement in the upper chamber of Congress.
By the numbers, though, the tea party did not do that well. NBC News crunched the data and found that off the dozens and dozens of tea party candidates on ballots last night, about 60% of them lost. Still, with the GOP still running scared from from the tea party, even the 32% of candidates that made it through will be a potent force in the new Republican majority in the House.