What Tuesday's Results Mean For GOP, Tea Party
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Don Gonyea reports from Columbus, Ohio on the outlook for Republicans.
DON GONYEA: It seems Ohio is always pivotal in elections of late. Do well here and it's likely to be a pretty good night. It went very well for the Republicans yesterday. They captured the governorship, retained the U.S. Senate seat and knocked off all five Democratic members of Congress they targeted. An ebullient state GOP chairman Kevin DeWine captured the mood.
KEVIN D: Two years ago, they said that our party was dead. They had written the obituary. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I stand up here as the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party and declare that the Republican Party is alive and well.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
GONYEA: But DeWine also noted that the GOP had learned a lesson from 2006 and 2008.
WINE: They told us to clean up our act. They told us to act like Republicans. They told us to restore their trust.
GONYEA: Across the country, a recurring theme in Republican victory speeches was that the message has been received. In Florida, Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio won by first taking on the GOP establishment in the primary and then coasted to victory.
MARCO RUBIO: And what Americans are looking for desperately are people that will go to Washington, D.C. and stand up to this agenda that is taking us in the wrong direction and...
GONYEA: Then there's the man who toppled Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, businessman Ron Johnson.
RON JOHNSON: Well, we know what we need to do. We need to restore fiscal sanity to this nation.
GONYEA: Johnson, Rubio and Rand Paul in Kentucky were the best examples of the power of the Tea Party movement. But there were also places where the Tea Party hurt GOP chances of winning even more. Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada, who lost to Harry Reid.
SHARRON ANGLE: I am so proud to call you friends because we know how to win and we know how to lose.
GONYEA: Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina helped many of those very conservative newcomers with campaign cash and endorsements.
JIM D: We all run as conservatives. We talk about limited government. Everyone says we need to reform our tax code. It's just a matter of getting us all moving in the same direction because we're already saying the same things.
GONYEA: Republican strategist Mike Murphy says Republicans need to keep in mind that their victory yesterday was a result of a well-run campaign, but also this:
MIKE MURPHY: I think the election was mostly a negative referendum on President Obama and the Democrats.
GONYEA: Murphy has long cautioned that Republicans not interpret unpopularity of Democrats as a validation of the GOP, which also suffers from very low approval ratings.
MURPHY: Now that we've taken this power that's been given to us by the American people, it comes with a responsibility.
GONYEA: Back in Ohio, at last night's GOP celebration, Bob Gibbs is the new congressman-elect from the 18th District. He says he feels that responsibility.
BOB GIBBS: We're going to listen to the people, that's for sure. And you got a lot of Republicans coming into Congress now that weren't there.
GONYEA: Gibbs says he sees it as a very different party before adding this note.
GIBBS: Yup. It better be or we're going to be kicked out of office too.
GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News, Columbus.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.