South Carolina: The tea party's last gasp?

Since the movement’s ascent in 2010, some tea party fans believe its influence is fading. It has been less visible in the 2012 election scene and has been in some ways overshadowed by the leftist Occupy Wall Street movement. Unlike three years ago, the movement has also been less visible on the national circuit, with virtually no gatherings to boast of in Washington D.C.

“It is almost impossible to believe and downright sickening to accept that in light of the clear mandate of the tea party that the GOP stands on the cusp of returning to ‘establishmentarianism,’” wrote conservative columnist and radio talk show host Kevin McCullough. “But it appears that for all the big talk, tens of thousands of local rallies, and the single largest non-inaugural event to ever occur on our nation’s mall, the tea party has died. Which is sad. And it’s sad for me personally as a supporter, because I believed in the movement and I even addressed those patriots, on that mall, that cloudy Washington day.”

Tea Partiers, however, charge that although they might not be able to influence the presidential race as much as they had hoped, they still plan to make a dent in this year’s state and congressional elections.

“There are several people interested in the presidential election,” said Shelby Blakely, executive director of The New Patriot Journal, a publication of the tea party Patriots, “but there is a larger group that’s focused on the congressional election in 2012 and to continue to elect tea party-minded individuals within the U.S. Congress.”