Tea party test cases: The hard right runs hard on Election Day (video)

Todd Akin: Akin is a strong social conservative, but he actually wasn’t the tea party favorite in the Missouri Republican primary. Yet the six-term House member prevailed and was initially a double-digit favorite over Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Then Akin quickly run into a controversy over rape and abortion.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin told a local television channel. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin plummeted in the polls, trailing at one point by as much as 15 points. But he has since recovered somewhat and Public Policy Polling has him just 4 points behind McCaskill.

Michele Bachmann: Bachmann briefly hoisted the tea party banner in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, winning the Ames straw poll in Iowa and vaulting near the top of national GOP polls. Her presidential campaign ended after a sixth-place finish in the caucuses. The Minnesota congresswoman has since focused on running for re-election to her House seat.

Bachmann has come under fire for alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the U.S. government. Some polls have suggested Bachmann is in trouble, but she has won tough races before.

Justin Amash: The Michigan Republican freshman is the second-youngest member of the House and is such a stickler for the Constitution that he annoys the GOP leadership. Amash opposed Paul Ryan’s latest budget because it did not cut spending and reduce the debt quickly enough. He is considered Ron Paul’s successor as the congressman most likely to vote no when everyone else votes yes. One poll shows Amash in a tight re-election race, but in late October the Republican’s polling gave him a 14-point lead.

Allen West: West has been one of the most vocal House GOP freshmen, saying that President Barack Obama wants to Americans “to be his slave.” West has accused Florida Democrats of “shenanigans” and “nefarious actions” in the state’s early voting fight. Democrats targeted West, one of just two black Republicans in the House, the moment he won his seat in 2010. Cook Political Report rates his race a toss-up.

Joe Walsh: Walsh is not the former Eagles guitarist, but he is a high-profile tea party freshman. Representing an Illinois swing district long held by conservative Republican Phil Crane and then by Democrat Melissa Bean, Walsh is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents. His Democratic challenger is Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs and injured her right arm in the Iraq war.

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