The recent elections underlined a growing tension in political money circles: Business people are increasingly fed up with the activist wing of the Republican Party. It's a trend that will have broad implications for next year's midterm elections and the presidential race in 2016, political experts say.
In Alabama on Nov. 5, Republican Bradley Byrne beat tea party favorite Dean Young for a U.S. House seat in part because the business community rallied around him. In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe bested tea party-backed Republican Ken Cuccinelli partially because some conservative business donors wouldn't give to the GOP campaign—or even switched sides. And in New Jersey, moderate Republican Chris Christie crushed tea party candidate Seth Grossman in the primary and then Democrat Barbara Buono in the general election because of strong business support.
And there's more to come. Business interests appear to be rallying behind moderate Republicans Brian Ellis, David Trott and Mike Simpson against tea party-approved challengers Justin Amash, Kerry Bentivolio and Bryan Smith for House seats in 2014 (Ellis and Trott are running in Michigan and Simpson is in Idaho).
(Read more: Christie wins big, tea party loses in Va. race)
"We're seeing a fraying of the longtime alliance between the business community and activist, fiscally conservative Republicans," said Christopher C. Hull, an adjunct professor of politics at Georgetown University and head of political advocacy technology firm BlastRoots.