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Buyer's remorse? Poll shows tea party support fading

November 29, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • People file into the Ocean Center in Dayton Beach, Fla. on Nov. 5 for a Tea Party Convention.
People file into the Ocean Center in Dayton Beach, Fla. on Nov. 5 for a Tea… (David Massey / AP/Daytona…)

The influence of the tea party movement appears to be on the wane — even in congressional districts that elected tea party candidates last year, according to a new survey.

The report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released Tuesday showed support for the tea party dropping nationwide, with more Americans viewing the movement unfavorably. The view of the Republican Party in the 60 districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus has also suffered.

Overall, according to Pew, more Americans (27%) disagree with the goals of the movement than agree (20%), with half of those surveyed having no opinion. A year ago, those numbers were reversed, with 27% of Americans favoring the tea party’s aims.

The decline has been just as steep in districts that sent a tea party follower to Congress. A year ago, 33% in those districts said they agreed with the tea party, now that number is just 25%. In contrast, those who disagreed with the tea party shot up from 18% to 23%. (In March 2010, just 10% of those surveyed said they disagreed with the tea party.)

Several of the freshman members of the tea party caucus, such as Reps. Chip Cravaack of Minnesota, Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida, were elected from swing districts, which could have dragged down some of the overall approval numbers.

But the survey also found that the image of the GOP is also taking a beating in districts that sent a tea partyer to Congress. In those tea party districts, the approval rating for the Republican Party has dropped from 51% to 41% over the last 14 months.

The 60 members of the caucus include 17 freshmen Republicans elected in 2010, as well as 43 incumbents who were reelected. Missing from the survey? The reasons why many have soured on the movement.

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