Their true ascendance will come this year, as they will likely follow the pattern set by leaders of former presidential candidate and Christian Coalition leader Pat Robertson in the early 1990s. They will have mastered the party rules they didn't understand in past years. Their boisterous activity at previous GOP state conventions will turn into better organized and more "crowd friendly" potential power brokering in the next few years.
And their once unpopular positions on issues such as U.S. military intervention abroad, absent some major turn in events, will become a potential winner with conservatives and independents who are clearly war weary.
The true power of groups such as the tea party and the "Paulites" is more their ability to launch a candidate of their own in a GOP primary. For a gubernatorial or congressional seat take enough of the vote to force "establishment" Republican candidates into uncomfortable and costly runoffs or to take positions they would normally not take.
And that's not a bad thing. The beauty of the tea party was that it touted true liberty and fiscal constraint. And make no mistake; there are plenty of tea party organizations still sticking to those simple but popular themes.
But with so many cooks in the kitchen and so many mixed messages, it is clear that the next "New, New Thing" in GOP elections will be the emergence of those who support not only a Rand Paul presidential run but also an overhaul of the GOP as a big-time factor in Republican politics. The consultants and pundits paid or beloved by those in power will dismiss such talk. That is until, as was the case with the Christian Coalition or tea party of past, they have to admit the truth.