As Tea Party cranks up heat on Congress, poll shows public support waning

March 30, 2011

The Tea Party is coming to Washington to turn up the heat on the Congress — just as a new poll finds that public support for it has waned.

Members of the conservative Tea Party movement plan to hold a rally on Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol, urging Republicans to stand firm in their showdown with Democrats over proposed spending cuts.

While the Tea Party helped Republicans win power in last year’s elections, nearly half of all Americans now have an USA-POLITICS/unfavorable view of it, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released on Wednesday.

The Tea Party’s 47 percent unfavorablity rating is up four points since December, and represents an increase of 21 points since January 2010, the poll said.

That drops the Tea Party into the same disapproval range as the Democratic and Republican parties, whose unfavorable ratings are each 48 percent. The Tea Party’s favorable rating of 32 percent is down five points since December.

“This is the first time that a CNN poll has shown the Tea Party’s unfavorable ratings as high as those of the two major parties,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political science professor, said voters have lost patience with Washington’s inability to reinvigorate the weak U.S. economy.

“Why has the Tea Party gone down so fast? They seemed fresh and, just maybe, added a needed ingredient in the process last year. But so far, what’s happened? Not much except the usual bickering and gridlock,” Sabato said.

Democrats charge that Republicans have been reluctant to compromise because of the Tea Party, which has pushed for far deeper cuts than Congress is considering.

While House Republican leaders have favored $61 billion in cuts this fiscal year, members of the Tea Party have demanded at least $100 billion and Democrats have offered $30 billion.

Republican Representative Michele Bachmann, chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, is among those who plans to speak at Thursday’s rally.

Bachmann said her message will be: “Stand firm, hang tough,” and that she believes the Tea Party retains plenty of clout on Capitol Hill.

“It’s very strong, and I think it will continue to be because that’s where the vibrancy of  the Republican Party is right now,” Bachmann told Reuters.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted March 11-13, with 1,023 people questioned by telephone. It has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Tea bags hang from the hat of Tea Party activist Martha Stamp at a conservative gathering in Washington in February)


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The Tea Party was co-opted by the existing conservative leadership structure the very day it was created. Does anyone remember their very first rally getting a full day of coverage on Fox News? I feel bad for the few real grass roots community organizers who started it, who actually just cared about lower taxes and higher government accountability. That’s a noble goal. But it was distorted from the start by Republicans and other hyper-conservative groups. It sadly had no chance. In our system, if you’re not one of the two major parties, you either get eaten up or ignored. Now the Tea Party is a punchline, especially with someone like Michelle Bachmann claiming leadership: ele-bachmann/

Posted by TrueIronPatriot | Report as abusive

I’m beginning to think I am a social capitalist. I’ve always admired entrepreneurship and private enterprise. It was good to be in business and make or do something that is wanted or needed by other people. And it was good to grow in business and be able to provide jobs for other people while making a good living. And I was always impressed by small businesses that believed in and practiced profit-sharing for their employees. Then, over the years, business started to be all about management or what my chemistry professor father-in-law called “bean counting.” It became all about profit, and shareholders.
People used to invest in businesses because they believed in them. There aren’t many investors around any more. Buying into mutual funds really isn’t investing. It’s kind of like banking. And you don’t know, really, what your money is paying for.

With our democratic socially conscious capitalist government, we invested in our general welfare, and we had knowledge and direct votes for what we support and invest in, and our returns were things like protection from dictators, public schools that provided basic learning for everyone — so that we had some common knowledge and a common base of communication. It provided us with national parks, and it even provided a means to keep people out of poverty.

It’s not what many people who speak out as self-proclaimed conservatives and tea-partiers seem to be at all about. I don’t understand why that’s considered conservative. And I don’t understand why people so many people want a boss rather than a representative.

It makes me sad. And I find myself thinking that the best way to address the budget is to go back to the taxing structure we had 50 – 75 years ago. Now that’s conservative.

Just my thinking, and my opinion.

Posted by ashcom | Report as abusive

Thank goodness that working people have had enough of the tea bagger nonsense. They say cut ,cut ,cut but not mine, mine,mine. The real name for the tea party should be the NIMBY caucus. They want everyone else to pay the price while their little pet project are somehow good for America. They have done nothing but divide this country worse than it already was and have achieved nothing.They should take the tea bags off of their hats and have a cuppa,sit down and shut up. Especially it’s weirdo mouthpiece Michelle(what camera should I face Bachmann.I hope she runs for president. It will guarantee four more years of sanity. Obama 2012!!!

Posted by damyankeedem | Report as abusive

This just in: Tea sales are up dramatically regardless of what the media says!

Posted by DrJJJJ | Report as abusive

You mean kool-aid sales, right? And why are those tea party rallies so small?

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

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Posted by As Tea Party cranks up heat on Congress, poll shows public support waning | Political Headlines | Report as abusive

tea party needs a name change.innuendo and derogatory remarks made by politicians and news media has done the teabagger thing way to much. they went to dc to cut spending,with some really good ideas. too bad republicans are afraid to cut that much. somebody has to deal with all foreign aid. google us foreign aid. very interesting reading.but that’s just a start. Don’t give up Tea Party.

Posted by jonnyglut | Report as abusive

How can anyone take this group serious after looking at the leaders and list of candidates they lined up? Good for America? I think not. I would love a viable third party to be spawned in this country. But, with the supreme courts recent decision to allow political spending to run rampant, all we will have is parties/politicians that serve the wealthy corporate and billionaire interests. And they rarely coincide with the remaining 98 percent of the American population.

Posted by fromthecenter | Report as abusive

What an awe inspiring photograph that accompanies this article. Doesn’t it make one have the utmost confidence in the tea party, a cruel joke on our country.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive

As a relatively new immigrant to the US from “Down-under” I have to say that American politics intrigues me. The propaganda machine, the lies, the greed, and the total disregard for your fellow man, woman and child. In a country as wealthy as America, you all deserve social services that support those that are unable to afford food , shelter and medical. Simply saying or thinking “Go get a job!” doesn’t apply when the unemployment rate is 9.5% and work is extremely scarce, or the person is elderly or has a medical condition and can no longer work. Where is the heart of the American people? You all deserve to have a life that is not lived in fear of medical bankruptcy, or having your retirement savings squandered away by Wall Street or the threat of the Republicans’ trying to play with your Social Security or Medicare. People, these are your basic human rights. If only EVERYONE paid their fair share of taxes, especially the wealthy and the Corporates, the living landscape of America would be quite different.

Posted by clarebro | Report as abusive

When I lost my job my family needed WIC for 3 months when my savings ran out, I also used federally subsidized loans for school while working my way through. I graduate this May from the university of tulsa with an engineering degree. A 3.97 GPA while working 20 hours a week, assisting with research projects, and raising twin two year olds. Now I will be in our top tax bracket with my starting salary, paying back many times over what I took from the system. Without my degree the best job I could find was 9 dollars an hour. Due to some minimal federal and state aid I will now be a tax payer for the next 30 plus years.

I urge my fellow Americans to study carefully what you remove from the system. For example,if you feel strongly that abortion is wrong, don’t get rid of WIC and send the child you saved to bed hungry every night. If you are on Medicare please do not stand up and shout about socialized health care, you are on it. If you cut education aid programs guys like me won’t go to school, build industry, and pay taxes, we will wait tables. Please think carefully about the issues as changes to such a complex system will cause ripples infinitely more complex than the simple examples given above. Thank you for your diligence.

Posted by Eddiebaso | Report as abusive

Please tell me how we grew to be the greatest most prosperous and most giving nation on earth BEFORE welfare and BEFORE social security and BEFORE WIC programs, and BEFORE all the other government subsistence programs? If I make a man dependent on me, is that a good thing; is it either stated or implied in the US Constitution?

Posted by joe84 | Report as abusive