1. Let’s say Tea Party groups had continued to grow at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010.
2. And let’s further say that their impact on the 2012 vote would have been similar to that seen in 2010. A new paper co-authored by AEI’s Stan Veuger estimates the grass-roots movement generated 3 million to 6 million additional Republican votes in House races in the midterms.
3. The 2012 result would have seen as many as 5 million to 8.5 million additional GOP votes versus a President Obama victory margin of 5 million votes. And right around now, Mitt Romney would be pushing hard to implement his tax reform plan, and #44 would be launching the Obama Global Initiative.
The Tea Party movement’s huge success was not the result of a few days of work by an elected official or two, but involved activists all over the country who spent the year and a half leading up to the midterm elections volunteering, organizing, donating, and rallying. Much of these grassroots activities were centered around 501(c)4s, which according to our research were an important component of the Tea Party movement and its rise. … Unfortunately for Republicans, the IRS slowed Tea Party growth before the 2012 election.
As Veuger concedes, we don’t know — and perhaps cannot know — the exact impact the IRS targeting had on the Tea Party movement and how that translated into actual 2012 vote totals. Of course, the Romney campaign had other problems. AEI’s Henry Olson:
Romney lost because he lost among those who chose the remaining characteristic — by 63 points, 81-18. That characteristic? Cares about people like me. The entire Obama campaign was designed to tell swing voters that Romney and the Republicans did not care about them. … That message resonated with what the Democrats call the Rising American Electorate: Hispanics, young voters, single women and Asians. They voted for Obama and Democrats in record proportions. It also resonated with blue-collar whites.
But it sure makes for an intriguing “what if” scenario — and a warning about what happens when government gets out of control.