43% Of Likely Voters See “Tea Party” Label As A Negative, Only 29% See It As A Positive

The Tea Party honeymoon may be coming to an end:

Looks like it’s a little more popular to be a liberal or a progressive these days, although conservative remains the best political label you can put on a candidate for public office. Being linked to the Tea Party is the biggest negative.

Rasmussen Reports periodically asks Likely U.S. Voters to rate political labels, and the latest national telephone survey finds that 38% consider it a positive when a political candidate is described as “conservative.” That’s consistent with surveys for several years but down slightly from 42% in January. Twenty-seven percent (27%) see conservative as a negative political label, up six points from the prior survey. Thirty percent (30%) rate it somewhere in between. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

“Tea Party” has suffered much worse. Considered a positive political label by 29%, 43% now think Tea Party is a negative description for a candidate. That’s a net rating of negative 14, making it the worst thing you can call a candidate. Twenty-three percent (23%) put it somewhere in between.

Last September, 32% viewed Tea Party as a positive label and 38% a negative one. That was the previous low point for the grassroots smaller government movement. But that negative finding fell to 32% in January.

The partisan divided on the Tea Party label is perhaps predictable: 56% of Republicans see it as a positive, while 70% of Democrats think it’s a negative.  Voters not affiliated with either party also now regard Tea Party as a negative label by a 42% to 25% margin.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of non-Tea party members see the label as a negative.

The implications of numbers like this for 2012 should be rather obvious. Assuming this negative opinion of the Tea Party continues, a Republican candidate who walks into a General Election campaign labeled as the “Tea Party candidate” could be at a disadvantage, especially among independent voters. Each race will be shaped by its own dynamics, of course, but on a broader national scale, and most especially in the Presidential race, one would expect to see Democrats increase their efforts to associate the eventual Republican nominee with the Tea Parry for the same reason that they continue to associate Republicans with the George W. Bush Administration.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CB says:

    why do you hate america, doug?

  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    Astroturf movements rarely stay relevant for long.

    The Tea Party was never a real political movement. It was simply Republican Rebranding 101 after 2008. Now the GOP needs to rebrand itself, yet again. Must be getting tiresome.

  3. Nikki says:

    The Democrats won’t have to associate the eventual nominee with the Tea Party. The nominee will accomplish that during the primary. The Tea Party requires a fealty that won’t allow the candidate to become more moderate in the general election.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    I think they may be suffering from the fact that many Tea Party members have died of old age and many others have forgotten what they were talking about and have switched instead to being concerned about the soup being too cold.

  5. If you are Tea Party, you are a terrorist. Sarah Palin is a mouthpiece for the Tea Party which represents nothing but hatred and dissension. Her rhetoric and violence-inciting imagery IS a form of terrorism and a prime example. She held Jared Lee Loughner’s hand while he murdered people with his misguided sensibilities. I was compelled to draw a visual commentary showing her handing him the gun on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/sarah-palin-made-me-do-it.html She’ll go to any lengths and keep spewing her insanity for that attention (and the money of course.)

  6. A voice from another precinct says:

    @michael reynolds: Yes, but they still realize that Obama is a dangerous socialist radical jihadist who pals around with terrorists and hates his country–and that they are the majority because they represent “grassroots American values.” When you know these things, the temperature of the soup is only other thing that really matters. Your place in history is secure. Now, what’s for desert?

  7. mantis says:

    There is never a good reason to trust a Rasmussen poll.