Tea Partyers should not, as many of them fear, simply be used by the Republican Party as a source of electoral energy while their own candidates are ignored and dismissed. But the question is: Which of their candidates?
Marco Rubio in Florida is strong, serious, dynamic. He has a great future as a Republican leader. Joe Miller, who upset the Murkowski dynasty in Alaska, is a man of remarkable achievement: West Point graduate, decorated veteran, judge. Both will win.
Moreover, geography matters. Rand Paul may not be the best candidate in the world — it is not a very good idea to start your general election campaign by expressing reservations about the Civil Rights Act — but he is running in Kentucky. He will almost certainly win.
Delaware is not Kentucky. If Republicans want to be a national party, they cannot write off the Northeast, whose Republicanism is of a distinctly moderate variety.