South Carolina's The State newspaper (h/t/ Ben Smith) reports on a Tea Party rally at the statehouse featuring the governor herself that didn't really turn out as planned. They expected 2,000 people, but when Donald Trump canceled on them, Nikki Haley spoke to a crowd of only 30. Here's the sad, sad photo:
Hey, it happens. I once made a bookstore appearance where the audience consisted of my wife, my co-author's husband, a reporter from the student newspaper, and a homeless guy getting out of the rain. In this case, it could easily have been a matter of poor organization. But anemic turnout at Tea Party events is becoming more common. The problem with building a movement on anger is that it can be hard to keep people angry. Anger is tiring. And as the economy slowly improves, it becomes harder to get fence-sitters mad. Even your core supporters may be reluctant to come out and yell about socialism for the tenth time, when the ninth time wasn't as much fun as the first and second.
This is what the Tea Party is facing now. They've been incredibly successful in bending the political agenda to their will, but once their rallies start looking like this, they look less and less like a dynamic grassroots movement, and more and more like a bunch of fringe dead-enders in tricorner hats. At some point, Republicans will begin to distance themselves from the Tea Party. It may not happen until they have a presidential nominee who needs to appeal to the center. But it will happen.