In the aftermath of this clear-cut demonstration of how Republicans can win, the revolutionaries are still pledging to purge the party’s moderates by rallying behind more Hoffmans in G.O.P. primaries from Florida to California. And they may get some scalps. But Tuesday’s loss revealed that they’re better at luring freak-show gawkers into Fox’s tent than voters into the G.O.P.’s. As if to prove the point, protesters hoisted a sign likening health care reform to Dachau at the raucous tea party rally convened by Michele Bachmann on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Should the G.O.P. avoid self-destruction by containing this fringe, then the president and his party will have to confront their real problem: their identification with the titans who greased the skids for the economic meltdown from which Wall Street has recovered and the country has not. If there’s one general lesson to be gleaned from Christie’s victory over Jon Corzine in New Jersey, it’s surely that in today’s zeitgeist it’s less of a stigma to be fat than a former Goldman Sachs fat cat, even in a blue state.