One in five Americans now identify as supporters of the Tea Party. Do any of these people represent new support for the Conservative cause? I don't think so. Most Tea Party supporters have come out of the Republican party or from the ranks of Republican leaning independents.
What this means is that while the Tea Party doesn't bring anybody new to the Republican table, they will be able to exert substantial and maybe in some localities, decisive influence on political candidates and platforms.
What does this mean? What are the defining issues of the Tea Party? As far as I can tell, the most over riding Tea Party ideals have to do with fiscal responsibility, transparency and a desire for honesty in government. These are areas in which neither the Republicans or Democrats excel. If the Tea Party can actually translate these ideals into reality, they may garner a great deal of support from Democrats as well as Republicans. I think they underestimate how difficult it will be. From what I've seen of the Tea Party in action, at least in initial stages, with leaders like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Glen Beck at the forefront, they have a long way to go.
I wish them luck. Fiscal responsibility, transparency and honesty would be a real nice addition to American politics.