So yesterday a colleague and I were talking about how honestly envious we are of what the GOP base has been able to do this year – run dozens of candidates for statewide and federal office, rack up a decent win rate, and get real conservative movementarians to win major nominations. Contrast this what we’ve done on the netroots over the last six years, with not more than a handful of genuine movement candidates, let alone winners. Frankly it’d be fun to have the sort of wave the right is having now.But I think this is both an obvious analysis and the wrong one. The Tea Party and the Netroots are two very different creatures.First, the Netroots is a progressive, grassroots movement that does not have institutional support from the Democratic Party apparatus (neither nationally nor on the state/local level). The Netroots does not have major Democratic donors stepping towards us with millions of dollars to fund various grassroots entities – neither as astroturf outfits nor genuine movement training houses. The Netroots does not have scores of past failed nominees for Democratic offices, state level party officials, Democratic millionaires, established party activists and corporate donors providing the bulk of our candidates for office. In a word, the Netroots is a genuine grassroots movement defined by the lack of support from the various institutions and iterations of Democratic power.Second, the Tea Party is a conservative movement that includes genuine grassroots activists, alongside (or pushed by) major party leaders (Gingrich, Palin, Armey, Beck, Limbaugh), astroturf organizations (Freedom Works, Tea Party Express), and corporate donors (Koch). The Tea Party candidates have been primarily Republican office holders, party officials, major donors and operatives. It is a both real and astroturfed front for what have been traditional Republican goals (abolishing Department of Education, cutting Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits, reducing taxes on the wealthy). Yes, the candidates have tended to say things bluntly, making them appear more extreme than your average Republican. But this is purely something that arises from a willingness to stop hiding behind the polished messaging of Luntz and Rove-types. It doesn’t represent a new shift of the movement (though, in fairness, the Netroots has always pushed for ideas that were also traditionally Democratic, but never forcefully argued for by elected officials). The Tea Party’s success is almost completely explainable by the degree of support they receive from traditional Republican infrastructure and power bases – solely excluding the NRSC, NRCC, and RGA in some places.Anyway I think there’s a real story to tell about how making assumptions about Tea Party success versus Netroots failure (or dramatically slower rate of success) is wrong. This is not an apples to apples comparison, yet I expect lots of Beltway media types and Republican activists will be trying to imply that it is in order to further the narrative that America is a right-leaning country.Update:In the comments, Tim Jones points out another difference between the Tea Party and Netroots that has substantially helped the Tea Party succeed is they have major support from the mainstream media, including basically complete allegiance from Fox News and formation based around the comments of a CNBC contributor.