The Tea Party might be good at organizing rallies outside the Capitol building in Washington and staging rallies at Fountain Square, but just how pervasive is the group’s views among the American people?
Not very, according to a new poll.
A national poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University found that just 13 percent of respondents identified themselves as belonging to the Tea Party movement. Results also showed that more women than men identify as Tea Partiers, and is mostly white and Republican. Also, members voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and strongly support Sarah Palin.
Further, just 28 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the Tea Party, compared to 23 percent who have an unfavorable view. A whopping 49 percent said they didn’t know enough about the group to form an opinion.
Public sentiment about the two major political parties isn’t so good, either. Respondents’ opinion of the Democratic Party is 48-33 unfavorable, while their opinion of the Republican Party is 42-33 percent unfavorable.
Moreover, in a matchup of generic candidates, the presence of a Tea Party candidate benefits Democrats.
Voters say by a 44 to 39 percent margin that they would vote for a Republican over a Democratic candidate in this November's congressional elections, the poll found. But if there’s a Tea Party candidate on the ballot, the Democrat would get 36 percent to the Republican's 25 percent, with 15 percent for the Tea Party candidate.
“The Tea Party movement is mostly made up of people who consider themselves Republicans,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “They are less educated but more interested in politics than the average Joe and Jane Six-Pack and are not in a traditional sense swing voters.
“The Tea Party could be a Republican dream -- or a GOP nightmare,” he added. “Members could be a boon to the GOP if they are energized to support Republican candidates. But if the Tea Party were to run its own candidates for office, any votes its candidate received would to a very great extent be coming from the GOP column.”
“Less educated” is better than how Republican strategist Karl Rove described Tea Partiers Wednesday on MSNBC.
“This Tea Party movement is largely novices, relatively politically unsophisticated people, and as a result sometimes their rhetoric is raw and angry," Rove replied. "That's the downside.
“The upside is that a large number of people who have heretofore been spectators have been motivated by a deep concern about our country to get involved in politics,” he added.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,907 registered voters nationwide March 16-21, with a margin of error of 2.2 percent. It also includes 253 voters who say they are part of the Tea Party movement, with a margin of error of 6.2 percent.