Douthat thinks yesterday's results are bad for the Palin wing of the GOP:
The G.O.P. leadership is still going to be constrained (hopefully in positive, deficit-reducing ways, rather than negative, let’s-shut-down-the-government ways) by the activists who helped put them in power, and there will probably be an even stronger crop of Tea Party insurgents running against incumbent Republicans in the 2012 Senate and House primaries. But I do think that the fate of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, and the likely fates of Ken Buck and Joe Miller, sharply reduce the chances of a purely Tea Party-affiliated candidate a Sarah Palin, a Jim DeMint, or someone else entirely winning the G.O.P. nomination for president. (Though admittedly, I never thought those chances were that high to begin with.) Come 2012, there’s going to be an enormous appetite among Republican voters for someone who can actually beat Obama in a hard-fought general election campaign and for all their victories last night, the Tea Parties still haven’t proven that their more polarizing candidates can win the hardest, most-contested and highest-profile races.
It seems to me that last night will not matter much in the primary battle for 2012. What will matter is whether the base is satisfied merely with Obama-bashing for two more years or whether they actually expect some fiscal reform from the GOP. Boehner will have to pretend for the next two years that he is interested in cutting the size of government. If he doesn't pretend well enough, there may be a Tea-Party revolt and third party breakout. Palin, one senses, would much rather "go rogue" than go easily if the GOP establishment finds their man. Noah Millman is more succinct:
Republicans nominated very right-wing candidates who seemed like plausible Senators in Florida and Pennsylvania. They won. They also nominated very right-wing candidates who seemed like lunatics in Nevada, Delaware and Alaska. They lost. ... There is a lesson here: don’t nominate candidates who seem like lunatics. You would think this would be an easy lesson to learn.