Gallup released a new poll on Thursday which shows that opposition to the Tea Party is at its highest level since the polling firm started tracking the far-right, anti-government movement in 2010. Currently, 30% of adults nationwide oppose the Tea Part, while only 22% support it. Meanwhile, 48% have no real opinion of the Tea Party. The number of people opposing the Tea Party is matches the highest mark that Gallup has tracked, which occurred in November 2010, which is when a number of Tea Party-backed Republicans won House and Senate seats.
The big takeaway from this poll, however, is the drop of support for the Tea Party among Republicans. Back in November 2010, 61% of Republicans said they were supporters of the Tea Party. Contrast that with this most recent poll, where only 41% say they back the movement. On top of that, 11% of GOP voters state that they now actually oppose the Tea Party. It appears that Republicans throughout the country are starting to tire of RWNJs grabbing tons of media attention and making fools of the GOP on a daily basis.
There was a slight glimmer of hope for Tea Partiers in this poll. It revealed that those who support the Tea Party are more enthusiastic about the midterm elections this year than other Republicans and non-Republican voters. 53% of Tea Party supporters said they were enthusiastic about this year’s elections, while only 35% of other Republicans and 29% of non-Republicans felt the same way. Also, 43% of Tea Party adults said they had given a lot of thought to the midterms, while 26% of other Republicans and 19% of non-Republicans said the same thing.
This is really not surprising, though. If you state you support the Tea Party, it means you feel you are part of a political movement and therefore spend more time focusing on politics. It makes sense that Tea Partiers appear more enthusiastic and engaged than other voters. Therefore, while they may turn out to vote in a greater percentage than other voters, there appears to be far less of them and that their impact has been reduced significantly. This is pretty much what Gallup wrote when they released the poll.
The number of Tea Party supporters among Republicans has dropped by a third since November 2010, and opposition to the Tea Party in the general population has returned to its all-time high — suggesting that the Tea Party will have less potential to affect elections this year than was the case in the last midterm election in 2010.
Tea Party support, more than anything else, appears to substantially correlate with the more straightforward characteristics of being a core, conservative Republican. Thus, these trends may suggest that the GOP is on a more moderate track in general. Clearly Mitt Romney’s presidential nomination in 2012 was evidence of waning Tea Party support, and currently the Tea Party cannot even claim majority support of the GOP base, further hindering its influence to remake the party in its own image. The results of several high profile primary contests later this month will be important indicators of the reality of the Tea Party’s influence. Still, whatever else happens, Tea Party supporters will continue to be a presence in American politics because of their apparent motivation and interest in election outcomes, factors that, more than likely, will translate into support for candidates, and higher Election Day turnout.
Basically, the Tea Party isn’t necessarily dead just yet. At the same time, it has been placed in hospice and it seems like only a matter of time before it is given its last rites.