Michael Barone

In the second congressional district, Renee Elmers, attacked for supporting immigration measures, including legalization, won, 59 to 41 percent.

In the third congressional district, Walter Jones, attacked for dovish views on foreign policy, won, 51 to 45 percent.

And in Ohio's 14th congressional district, freshman David Joyce won, 55 to 45 percent. But House Speaker John Boehner got a solid 69 percent against multiple opponents in the Ohio eighth.

Republican primary voters seem to have passed through and out of a cycle that is apparent in both parties' core constituencies: In the last years of the second term of a party's president, the party's wingers grow restive.

They are disappointed that their side's president has not accomplished all they hoped and has compromised on what they believe are core principles.

Thus, after eight years of George W. Bush's presidency, Republican primary voters were pleased to reject likely general election winners in favor of seemingly more principled (and provocative) opponents.

This attitude may have cost Republicans Senate seats -- certainly in Delaware in 2010, arguably in Nevada and Colorado that year, and Indiana and Missouri in 2012.

Tea Party admirers point out, accurately, candidates who started off as insurgents -- Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz -- won solid victories and have injected needed new ideas and energy into the party.

Overall, Republican officeholders have internalized and acted on the Tea Party agenda. That's why the primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems likely to fail later this month.

Something similar is happening to Democrats in President Obama's sixth year in office: The left-wingers are getting restive.

Evidence includes the election of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the talk of an Elizabeth Warren presidential candidacy, billionaire Tom Steyer's $100 million crusade against the Keystone XL pipeline.

But left-wing Democrats aren't challenging many incumbents and establishment favorites -- yet. That could come if and when currently energized Republicans win the presidency.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM