The death of the Tea Party movement has been widely reported, by people who reported that death before the 2010 surge election in which the movement played a critical role, and every few months thereafter for several years.

It is true that the Tea Party monied-groups have mostly disappeared. To me, that’s a good thing because some of them merely fed off the movement. I’ve always distinguished between the movement and the groups. I’m proud that Legal Insurrection was part of the movement from the start, and equally glad that we steered clear of the groups.

But the movement itself has not died. This chart from Gallup through last fall tracks Tea Party support trends. Both support and opposition have fallen. A majority have no opinion or are neutral.

That almost one in five people STILL consider themselves Tea Party supporters is pretty impressive, particularly after the multi-year war by Democrats, the media and the Republican establishment on the Tea Party movement. That’s still tens of millions of people.

Among Republicans, the figure is almost one-third, and over 40% for self-identified conservative Republicans.

I’d argue that these trends reflect that the Republican Party and independents have absorbed much of the Tea Party movement agenda. Restraining the national debt, lowering taxes, keeping the federal government within its constitutional restraints, and scaling back the regulatory state’s control of our lives now are standard Republican Party ideas. That doesn’t mean Republican Party leadership gives anything but lip service to those principles, but that’s a personnel matter which elections slowly are changing.

Nowhere is that change more evident than in looking at two of the three leading Republican candidates, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Rubio was one of the original Tea Party renegades, challenging the NRSC annointed Republican candidate Charlie Crist in the 2010 election. We have told that story before, how Rubio launched his challenge with the help of the Not One Red Cent bloggers:

There are many stories to tell about this [2010] election cycle, but one group of bloggers deserves special credit.

In May 2009, a group of bloggers started a blog called Not One Red Cent in reaction to the attempt by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to anoint Charlie Crist as the Republican nominee in Florida, and to deprive Marco Rubio of a fair chance to compete for the nomination….

In those first few months they blogged like crazy, and they were voices in the wilderness.

Over time Marco Rubio began to pick up recognition and support and went mainstream, and NORC posts dropped off as others picked up the cudgel elsewhere.  The rest, as they say, is history.

When that history is written, I hope people will recognize the impact a few bloggers had in the revolution of 2010.

On August 24, 2011, I wrote:

What a guy.  He not only saved Nancy Reagan when she was falling, he also gave a speech  on the role of government which should be remembered as the kick off of the Marco Rubio for President campaign, we just don’t know what year yet.

Little did I know in 2011 that the year would be 2016.

I realize that because of the Gang of 8 debacle, many view Rubio as a disappointment, but in other regards he’s been a very solid conservative. Rubio’s platform and speeches about limited federal government are very Tea Party-ish.

Same with Ted Cruz, who received Tea Party movement backing in his campaign challenging establishment favorite David Dewhurst. Politico noted:

Ted Cruz announced his Senate … in an unconventional way emblematic of the campaign to come: on a conference call with Texas’s conservative bloggers. Then he tweeted it.

The NY Times reported in 2011:

A true believer’s true believer — as a teenager, he earned scholarship money delivering speeches on Friedrich Hayek — Mr. Cruz has become the darling of conservative leaders looking to reinforce the rightward shift of the Republican Party. The primary, in March, will test whether the Tea Party energy that helped elect so many conservatives in 2010 still packs punch enough to overcome the establishment advantages of money and name recognition.

In more than a year campaigning, Mr. Cruz has become a fixture at Tea Party events.

In 2013 I wrote, If we had followed the establishment advice, we would not have Ted Cruz in office:

Ted Cruz was the insurgent Tea Party – supported candidate running against the more establishment David Dewhurst.

If we followed the establishment advice to keep the seat safe, we would not have this rising star in office. The same is true for Marco Rubio and other next-generation Republican leaders.

While there were other races where it didn’t turn out as hoped, Ted Cruz demonstrates the importance of primaries.

I don’t think anyone disputes the Cruz embodies much of the Tea Party movement focus on smaller government and individual liberty.

Trump is not Tea Party. He’s not for smaller government, he’s for activist big government which works to Make America Great Again. That’s a vast improvement over Obama’s agenda for activist big government to Make America Weak Again, but it’s not Tea Party.

So there you have it. The Tea Party supposedly is dead. So dead that two of the three leading Republican candidates were politically birthed by the Tea Party movement.

We’ve been playing Meat Loaf this week as our Videos of the Week. As they sing, two out of three ain’t bad.