Many veteran Republicans are hesitant to embrace tea party energy, even at this very late stage in the campaign, where a unified party would seem to give them the best chance to take over one or both chambers of Congress.
Thus the extraordinary spectacle of Republican guru Karl Rove pronouncing O'Donnell unelectable in the wake of her upset of Rep. Mike Castle in the primary.
Murkowski's decision to go her own way stems from a similar frustration over where the tea party is taking the GOP, and a faith that the mainstream of the electorate will go in a different direction.
Colin Powell, a longtime Republican who endorsed Obama in the 2008 campaign, spoke for many mainstream GOPers in wondering where all the energy leaves the party.
"It may well be a fad, unless it converts itself from a movement into something that is a real political organization that takes stands on positions," Powell said today on NBC. "You have to have more than slogans."
Political seasons, of course, are never short on slogans. But Republicans who are asking for power back know it won't be enough to let the tea party movement carry them through to the fall.