"The win reminds everyone, workers, the business community and families, of the costs of unionization—Detroit and decline—and the real possibility of stopping this recent power grab," Norquist said in an email to Reuters.
(Read more: Confident, people quite jobs: Why that may be bad)
A chorus of Republican politicians in Tennessee and other conservative groups also fought against the union drive, arguing it would hurt the state's business climate, and some analysts cautioned against giving the center too much credit for the outcome.
Donald Schroeder, a Boston lawyer who works with management on labor issues, attributed the failed effort to the uncertain economy and said Republican politicians opposed to the union drive played a bigger role than Norquist's group.
The impact from Norquist's organization was "limited in scope," said Schroeder, adding employees were "worried first about keeping their jobs."
"I think it will be difficult to organize other plants in light of the VW vote," Schroeder said.
Patterson declined to discuss how much was spent on the campaign by the center, which worked with a coalition of community and business leaders to rally opposition.
He said the battle had awakened conservatives to the need to fight against unions like the UAW, and how the union responds to the defeat will be "pretty interesting," he said.
"They are going to have to sit back and look at their balance sheets and see what they can afford to do now," Patterson said.
(Read more: Unions in college football? One team makes a move)
The percentage of U.S. workers belonging to unions reached a historic low at 11.3 percent in 2013, according to government data. In 1983, U.S. union membership rate was 20.1 percent.