If polls prove accurate, moderate Mark Kirk will emerge victorious from today’s Republican Senate primary in Illinois, beating out two more conservative candidates with tea party backing. His victory would put a dent in the tea party panic gripping the GOP, says Talking Points Memo. Republicans in states including Florida, Pennsylvania, and California have been worried that far-right candidates will topple moderates, then lose in the general election.
“This blows a hole in that whole narrative,” says a Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee rep. But Democrats believe that, even if Kirk wins, he’s had to move far enough to the right in the primary that they can attack him as a flip-flopper. Tea partiers aren’t buying the polls, but they say a loss won’t discourage them. “We'll just keep fighting for the next one,” says one activist, “which will be Dick Durbin in 2014.”