Though many in establishment circles within the beltway speak of the Tea Party's demise, the umbrella of Tea Party groups have morphed from loosely organized gatherings into a host of tax-exempt political action committees around the country. From a high-water mark in the 2010 midterms, the Tea Party has continued to hold influence within GOP primaries from local to national elections though perhaps not on a scale it once did.
Report on the Tea Party and 2016 from Policy Mic:
As the Republican Party continues its autopsy of what went wrong in the 2012 elections, many in the party's base continue to have their own ideas about how to right the wrongs of 2012, and come back in 2016. Many in the party believe it will be by expanding their base of existing voters, but the party's base argues that victory can be achieved simply by turning out already-dedicated GOP voters . This is where the Tea Party, long thought to be dead, comes into play. While it is unlikely to have as much impact as it did in the 2010 midterms, the Tea Party is certain to play a pivotal role in the 2016 primary season and general election.
The 2016 Republican primary season is already shaping up to be a crowded field. Among the names of potential candidates, many have achieved power with a certain degree of support from the Tea Party. Potential 2016ers Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker have all gained prominence (or in the case of Scott Walker, who thwarted a recall, retained prominence) with the help of the Tea Party. If the primary season continues with the party infighting seen today, one can expect contentious fiscal and foreign policy issues to be brought up on the debate stage. The Tea Party is currently flexing its muscles in the fight against Obamacare, with Paul, Cruz, and Rubio all pushing to defund it. While defunding Obamacare is the general consensus of the Tea Party, their choice of method for doing so is not going to be an easy one for Cruz and Rubio to overcome should they run. Cruz and Rubio are actively promoting a government shutdown should a continuing resolution (CR) that includes funding for Obamacare be approved by the Senate next month.
Undoubtedly the Tea Party will have a strong voice in the 2016 GOP primaries, maybe stronger than 2012 when it was unable to derail Mitt Romney's "establishment" candidacy.
The real question within the Tea Party is how far it wades into social issues. Originally spawned by the unbridled growth of government and increasing taxation, some in the socially conservative wing have pulled the group into the fray on abortion and gay marriage.