I don't think the Tea Party is really going to have a significant influence on this November's elections in the U.S. They receive coverage that is vastly out of proportion to their actual influence because they are colorful, loud-mouthed, aggressive, and cruel. It's lovely watching working class whites out there begging the government to take money out of their pockets and give it to Exxon and Dow and Citibank, and the various industries associated with the Koch Brothers. It is especially lovely when they proclaim how sick they are of being manipulated, deceived, and misled by intellectuals, reporters, and feminists. They learn these things through Fox News and various conferences sponsored by the Koch Brothers.
Anyway, it would not be too much of a stretch to imagine that the Tea Party is entirely the creation of the Democrats. It's a conspiracy to keep the Republicans from winning the White House and the Senate: those snarky Tea Party revelers get out there and act ridiculous and say ridiculous things-- like "keep the government out of my Medicare"-- and heap discredit on the entire conservative movement. I suspect that most Americans, especially in the swing states, don't want to look stupid by voting for people who invariably look stupid.
PBS recently had a T-Party enthusiast, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network (or, as I prefer, the Capitalist Broadcasting Network) on for an interview with Judy Woodruff. Brody came off pretty well exactly like the evangelical leader that President Bartlett kicked out of the White House in a memorable West Wing episode.
Why was he on? The only reason I can think of is that the Republicans have been known to go ballistic on the issue of Public Television and the perceived bias of this institution which used to receive substantial government funding.
PBS has lately moved beyond the fake controversy over global warming: they now act as if it is a proven fact, which it is, and examine the ramifications. It's a courageous, intelligent move, and sure to enrage the Tea Party, if they noticed it, which they won't because they only watch Fox News.