Tea Party Popularity Declines

Not surprising:
The tea party might be running out of steam.

The approval rating for the 2-year-old movement fell to 32 percent in a CNN/Opinion Research corporation poll released Wednesday, the lowest it’s been since CNN first polled on the tea party in January 2010.

Forty-seven percent of Americans, meanwhile, said they have an unfavorable view of the movement, a higher negative percentage than ever. Another 7 percent said they’d never heard of the movement, and 14 percent said they had no opinion.

In December, 37 percent of the sample surveyed by CNN said they saw the tea party favorably, while 43 percent saw it unfavorably. The group’s favorability rating hovered between 36 percent and 38 percent throughout 2010.
In 2007 and 2008, the Tea Party was all-the-rage amongst fiscal conservatives.

In 2009 and 2010, the movement was co-opted -- at least to some extent -- by more mainstream conservatives (evangelicals, social conservatives, neo-cons) who wanted to capitalize on the growing momentum.

My guess is that this seeming decline in Tea Party favorability is not due to an ebbing of the movements' sentiment. Rather, it merely represents a feeling that has always been around -- and continues to fester as more Tea Partyers make headlines (and not always positive ones).

As always, Nate Silver has some excellent analysis at FiveThirtyEight:
The trend looks reasonably clear: unfavorable views are on the rise. Although the CNN poll may have exaggerated them slightly, they now register at about 44 percent, according to the trendline.

It’s not clear, on the other hand, that favorable views are decreasing; they’ve never been much higher than the low 30s, and that’s roughly where they remain today. Instead, this is almost certainly a case of Americans who had ambivalent views about the Tea Party before now coming to a more negative impression.

It’s also not obvious that this is anything especially new; unfavorable views have probably been increasing to some extent over the course of the past 15 months or so.


I’ve long been of the view that the Tea Party, despite nominating poor candidates in a couple of key races, was a significant net positive for the G.O.P. in 2010, both because it contributed to the “enthusiasm gap” and because it helped an unpopular Republican Party to re-brand itself in never-out-of-style conservative draping. But if the Tea Party ain’t over yet, the point in time at which it was an electoral asset for Republicans soon may be.
The bottom line is that, much to the chagrin of Democrats/liberals, the Tea Party movement is not going anywhere. I don't think that the movement is quite ready for a third-party type of status, but I think that it is definitely here to stay.