The Tea Party Was Tuesday's Biggest Loser

I’m tired of hearing how important the Tea Party, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party were in the outcome of the recent elections.

This is just journalists and commentators looking for the easy storyline.

Let’s be honest, it’s all about individual candidates not parties. If it wasn’t, the Senate would be Republican and O’Donnell and Angle would be senators today.

The winning candidates all understood the importance of what their Target Markets, their potential constituents, needed and satisfied these needs.

Marco Rubio welcomed Tea Party support but he was careful to keep his distance so as to assure non-Tea Party Floridians that he was there for all his future constituents. During his victory speech, he spoke about traveling all across Florida and learning from the people and he spoke a lot about his Cuban heritage, but he didn’t talk much about parties other than to say “our nation is headed in the wrong direction and both parties are to blame.” And he didn’t mention the Tea Party at all.

Harry Reid played down his national tar-and-feathering at the hands of conservatives and played up the fact that he has been there for the people of Nevada and will continue to be especially when it comes to jobs and bringing home the bacon.

The Tea Party was great in that it mobilized voters and raised important issues about our country’s direction that many of us –myself included— deeply care about.

But it failed in that the party –like all organized political movements—didn’t come close to any kind of sweep of elected office. In other words, there’s simply no mandate for Tea Party concerns and beliefs.

This is a critical lesson to understand –especially for people like John Boehner who could mistakenly act like they have just won some kind of party mandate.

Barack Obama and the Democrats mistakenly thought they had done the same after their 2008 victory.

They made the mistake of thinking that all they had to do was communicate their ideas to America for those ideas to quickly gain wide-spread support.

When those ideas didn’t immediately gain support, they just communicated harder.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t work any better. They simply refused to believe that the electorate had real reservations about the direction the Democrats wanted to take our nation. It was easier for Democrats to blame a failed communications strategy than accept that their agenda wasn’t liked by the majority.

The Tea Party candidates that fared the worst shared this trait with the Democrats.

Bottom line, it’s a belief in the communications model of governance and it’s a dangerous but enduring fantasy among most political parties. Someday, the communications folks seem to think, everyone will think like us (If only we get the message right).

Don’t get me wrong, getting your message out there clearly, compellingly and widely is important, but it’s the crafting of that message that matters most.

Communication is the last step; marketing is the first. Listening to the people -- all the people— and addressing their needs, especially when they don’t fit a party’s particular agenda…that’s what has to be done.

The next speaker of the House needs to take note. If the Republicans are to be successful –they will need to listen.

The Tea Party was exciting but now it’s over and governing must begin.

And, remember, things are always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.

John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert who is a principal in Metzger Tantillo Marketing, a recently formed strategic alliance targeted to small business professionals. He also offers his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion and the author of the new book, "People Buy Brands, Not Companies."