The path for the GOP nomination for president runs through the Tea Party, whose members have become the most highly motivated part of the Republican Party, according to Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

For Mitt Romney, that sounds like bad news. He’s been viewed as the more moderate candidate, competing with more orthodox conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Barone disagrees, and says Romney has been emphasizing tea party themes, “invoking the Founding Fathers and contrasting Obama's entitlement society with his merit society.”

“Evidently, Romney is not seen as totally unacceptable by tea party sympathizers and has a considerable advantage on electability,” Barone wrote in a commentary distributed by Rasmussen Reports.

Barone says “tensions between his past record and current tea party orthodoxy have not proven to be disabling, because the other candidates are to varying extents out of line with that orthodoxy, as well.”

The GOP race turns to New Hampshire for the state’s primary on Tuesday, and will head to South Carolina on January 21.