The Tea Party's Alamo?

Establishment Republicans believe a successful night of primaries on Tuesday — in particular Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) surprising defeat of challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) in a runoff — effectively neutered the Tea Party for the foreseeable future.

Main Street spent $400,000 for Cochran during the primary fight, with $100,000 of that coming as a ground operation investment during the runoff period.

The Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a super PAC with ties to former Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour (R) all pitched in on the race, but were ultimately outspent.

Groups backing McDaniel outspent groups backing Cochran by more than $3 million, and Cochran had far fewer establishment-minded groups coming to his rescue than conservative groups that supported McDaniel.

Still, Cochran prevailed, even while running a decidedly unconservative runoff campaign that emphasized the federal money he’s brought back to the state as an appropriator and pitching for African American Democratic votes.

As GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who previously advised Barbour’s campaign, put it, the Mississippi runoff results should make conservatives rethink their whole strategy.

“Sen. Thad Cochran was essentially left for dead, and yet the Tea Party could not get the scalp on the mantle it so desperately needed. So, it’s back to the drawing board for grassroots conservatives,” he said.

Read more from Alexandra Jaffe at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy