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CNN/Opinion Research poll: 'Tea party' viewed unfavorably by half of Americans

March 30, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times

The “tea party” movement, born out frustration with Democrats and Republicans, is viewed unfavorably by roughly half of Americans, putting the conservative protest group in the same political boat as its older, more established rivals, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday.

According to the survey, 47% of those surveyed said they had an unfavorable view of the tea party, a collection of different groups that are loosely united in their view of opposing big government, taxes and spending. The number of those who see the tea party in a negative light has increased 21 points since January 2010, when the group was becoming a significant force in fielding conservative candidates in GOP races around the country.

That unfavorability rating is comparable to those of the Democrats and Republicans, each at 48%. The poll of 1,023 people, contacted by telephone from March 11 to 13, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

“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,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “It looks like the rise in the movement's unfavorable rating has come mostly among people who make less than $50,000.”

those who see the tea-party movement in a favorable light has fallen to 32%, but that is only five percentage points since December. That means that the movement still has a hard core of support of about one-third of Americans, indicating that the type of anger that sloshed through the American political system last year will continue to be a political factor as Congress tries to deal with a range of budget and fiscal issues.

It also means that the tea party likely will continue to be a force through the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, in which President Obama faces a polling downturn.

According to the Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, American voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing by 48% to 42%, and most, 50% to 41%, say he does not deserve to be reelected.

“President Barack Obama’s approval numbers are at their lowest level ever, slightly below where they were for most of 2010 before he got a bump up in surveys after the November election and into the early part of this year,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Some reasons for his overall numbers might be that Obama receives negative ratings on his handling of the budget deficit, the economy, foreign policy, healthcare and energy policy.”

The poll is based on interviews from March 22 to 28, with 2,069 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Part of the perception of Obama is based on how the electorate sees him as a leader, and the latest Gallup poll, released on Wednesday, shows that in that area, the president has been on the decline. About 52% see Obama as a strong and decisive leader compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009, according to Gallup.

But 57% continue to say they believe Obama understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives, essentially unchanged from 56% in March 2010. And 51% of respondents believe Obama shares their values, up slightly from  48% last year.

The leadership gap crosses party lines, according to Gallup. Forty-nine percent of independents say they see Obama as a strong and decisive leader, compared with 56% in 2010. The falloff in Democrats is from 89% to 81% while Republicans dropped from 32% to 19% in a year.

The Gallup survey is based on 1,027 adults, interviewed from March 25 to 27. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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