News / USA

    Conservative Tea Party Movement Shapes US Election Landscape

    Tea Party candidate Rand Paul talks to attendees of the 'Red, White and Blue Picnic' in Owensboro, Kentucky
    Tea Party candidate Rand Paul talks to attendees of the 'Red, White and Blue Picnic' in Owensboro, Kentucky

    Across the United States, the influence of the conservative Tea Party movement is changing the way candidates are reaching out to voters ahead of the midterm elections November 2.  

    In the state of Kentucky, at Reid's Orchard on the outskirts of Owensboro, the fire of a barbecue pit sends the smell of hamburgers and beans into the warm evening air.

    Bringing candidates together

    Free food and conversation draws voters from across the political spectrum to an election year tradition in this part of the country: the Red, White and Blue Picnic. One of the organizers of the event, Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President Jody Wassmer, says this is how they bring the voters and candidates together.

    "This is a way that we bring the candidates out and let them meet the people," Wassmer says, "Good [old] fashioned political stump speeches.  That is what we're all about."

    Candidates running for offices ranging from local commission seats to the governor of Kentucky use the Red White and Blue Picnic as a platform to deliver their message directly to voters who will determine the outcome of midterm elections.

    Kentucky, says Wassmer, has traditionally voted for Democratic candidates.

    "It's a very conservative Democratic state, and the Republicans have made a lot of inroads here in recent years."

    Voter anger

    One such Republican is Senate candidate Rand Paul, who defeated a popular candidate supported by the national Republican Party in Kentucky's primary elections in May.  He successfully tapped into voter anger over bank and auto industry bailouts, and an expansion of health care coverage.

    He has the support of the Tea Party, which would like to see less government and lower taxes, something Paul says he strongly supports.

    "I think a country grows by getting government out of the way," says Paul. "Government isn't the solution. Government needs to get out of the way to let private business thrive.  Private business and industry is the solution," he says.

    Palin influence

    Paul's primary election victory in May, fueled by the endorsement of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, reinforced the power of the Tea Party movement.

    Across the United States, Tea Party support for senate candidates such as Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Joe Miller in Alaska, and Sharon Engle in Nevada have changed the face of the Republican Party by defeating more mainstream candidates. But their victories have also raised questions about whether or not their message will appeal to a broader voter base in November general election.  

    Democrats are also looking at some of these candidates as a liability to the Republicans in their effort to regain a majority in the House of Representative and Senate on November 2.

    Reshaping political system

    Doug Schoen is the author of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking our Two-Party System.

    "While the Tea Party movement has, at this point, quite substantial disdain for the Democrats, it has almost equal disdain for the Republicans," Schoen said.

    Even though Tea Party voters generally do not support incumbents, regardless of party, Schoen sees their influence helping the Republicans in November.

    "I think it will be a pretty big victory this November and it is largely if not entirely being driven by the Tea Party movement, a movement that really 18, 19, 20 months ago, or certainly two years ago when President Obama was running, there was not a person in the world, certainly not in this town who was ever thinking that any movement like the Tea Party could come into existence, much less have the impact that it has," says Schoen.



    Tea Party boost?


    According to recent CNN-Time magazine poll of registered voters in Kentucky, Rand Paul is tied with his Democrat rival Jack Conway. Conway did not attend the Red White and Blue Picnic, but supporters campaigning on his behalf tried to paint Rand Paul as an extremist candidate unable to best represent Kentucky Voters.

    But Jody Wassmer thinks Paul's support of business in Western Kentucky, and his opposition to environmental legislation commonly referred to as "Cap and Trade," may give him the edge in this part of the country come November.

    "This is coal country, and we have a lot of low cost coal powered plants, and 'cap and trade' is aimed squarely at those plants," says Wassmer. "Businesses that are struggling through this economy don't want to see their rates go up, that's an issue Rand Paul comes down very well on."

    Conway and Paul have agreed to three debates throughout October, which will give each of the candidates a chance to further reach out to voters in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.