American Public Sours On Tea Party Movement

A new CNN poll presents a possible dilemma for the GOP heading into 2012:

(CNN) — Nearly half of all Americans have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement, putting it in the same company as the Democratic and Republican parties, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that 32% of the public have a favorable view of the two-year-old anti-tax movement, which also calls for less government spending and a more limited role for the federal government in our lives. The 32% favorable rating is down five points from December.

The people questioned for the poll who say they have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party is 47%, up four points from December and an increase of 21 points from January 2010. That number is virtually identical to the 48% unfavorable ratings for both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the same poll.

“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,” said 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.”

The Tea Party movement’s unfavorable rating rose 15 points since October among lower-income Americans, compared to only five points among those making more than $50,000. Roughly half of all American households have incomes under $50,000.

Assuming these numbers are accurate, and assuming they hold up, the GOP could have a problem. The Tea Party Movement remains a strong voice inside the GOP and is likely to play a pivotal role in deciding who the 2012 nominee ends up being. If that candidate ends up being associated in the public mind with a movement that the public is skeptical of, then convincing those voters, most of whom are likely independents, to vote GOP could prove difficult.


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, 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. Hey Norm says:

    Off topic…
    Where’s the article about Cantor saying he’s going to enact a law without the Senate or the President?
    Really? Really?
    I mean if the Tea Party influence is waining why is Republican leadership still going insane?

  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    There are polls that say Obama is tanking. There are polls that have Charlie Sheen’s favorables in the high 40’s. There are polls that have Congress as a whole in the low teens. There are polls and there are polls.

    But there are also reports that the Senate Dems are about to agree to a $33B spending cut to avoid a government shut down and that Speaker Boehner is becoming more hawkish on budget matters, all due to the demands of the Tea Party.

    Don’t tell me about polls anymore. The only poll that will count will come in November next year.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    The only poll that will count will come in November next year.

    So if the president wins reelection, what will that tell you about the Tea Party movement?

  4. Hey Norm says:

    How can Obama not be re-elected if there are no members of the opposition party running against him?

  5. Seems to me that this poll, if accurate (as you say) shows that most Americans are identifying the Tea Party movements as a single entity, even thinking of it as an actual political party in name if not in fact. So the reality that the TP is still a set of movements with varying, though similar, ideals and objectives, rather than a unified, single-purpose party is working against the TP as a whole.

    I am sort of a political junkie and I could not tell you what the TP movements stand for as a collective, except in very general terms.

  6. wr says:

    Donald — It’s very simple. They stand for destroying the middle class and transferring wealth to the super rich. Once you understand that, everything else makes sense.

  7. Diana says:

    Here are the core principles of the Dallas Tea Party.

    1. Spending money you don’t have and have no hope of getting is a recipe for disaster. Thus, we believe in FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.

    2. More government is rarely the solution to a problem. Thus, we believe in LIMITED GOVERNMENT.

    3. Each individual must take primary responsibility for his own well-being and that of his family. Thus, we believe in PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

    4. Every judge and prosecutor has a duty to apply the law as it is written, and not as he or she wishes it could be. Thus, we believe in THE RULE OF LAW.

    5. The people of a nation should determine for themselves the laws which will govern their lives. Thus, we believe in NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY.

    Lying and misrepresenting what the people in the tea party want will not work. Ya’ll tried this during the last election (racists, etc) and failed miserably. The truth will always win out in the end.

  8. Gulliver says:

    The Tea Party is your neighbor – you just don’t know it…

    Get used to it.

  9. Gerry W. says:


    Why don’t you admit you are republican and forget the Tea Party. Like usual, the Tea Party says nothing. You say nothing on our infrastructure which needs 2 trillion dollars. Nothing said on how you support “free markets” (I gather) in which 2 billion cheap laborers are added to the free market in which the middle class loses jobs or has wages reduced. And nothing said about investing in our future. With 57,000 factories closed down and some 6 million jobs lost due to globalization, the Tea Party has given no answers and no answers to the middle class. We need more specifics in managing the country as other countries do in a globalized era.

  10. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    You say nothing on our infrastructure which needs 2 trillion dollars. Nothing said on how you support “free markets”…

    Actually, she answered this with the “LIMITED GOVERNMENT” statement. While these problems may or may not exist, the answer to any of them is not more government. Anybody who thinks that the government is going to solve their problems is a fool.

  11. sam says:

    Yo, Diana — how’re things working out in the Tea Party paradise of Texas? I’d think with all the rhetoric coming out of the mouths of your blow-dried secesh gov and hard right legislators about the virtues of conservative TP principles, the Lone Star State would be the shining city on the hill of conservative legend — if the theory is correct. But, wait, y’all in the ol’ deficit crapper pretty deep, right? Pretty, really deep, right?

    1. Spending money you don’t have and have no hope of getting is a recipe for disaster. Thus, we believe in FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.

    2. More government is rarely the solution to a problem. Thus, we believe in LIMITED GOVERNMENT.

    Well, you got 2, but you ain’t got 1. (What? Could it possibly be that at the theory is wrong?) Are you folks picketing the pols in Austin demanding whatever it is you demand? Or are you just concerned with the Big Show in DC?

  12. Gerry W. says:

    Your answer and Diana’s answer are too vague. We went through this with Bush. We had the tax cuts but we lost the jobs. 800 billion dollars of tax cuts, all spent, and nothing to show for it. It was tax cuts and laissez-faire. And in a globalized world, you cannot sit back and watch the world pass us by. Was the Eisenhower’s interstate “limited government”? Did the interstate help build our country? Do CEO’s not manage? Do coaches not coach? It is about having an effective government. And republicans are no better than the democrats on that.

    Limited government says nothing to half the population. People are out of work and vague rhetoric does not resonate. I want to know specific answers on how jobs will be created and not by ideology.

    If you are for “free markets”, it means that 2 billion cheap laborers are now in the free market system and what are we going to do about it?

    If you are for small business. How can you have a small business when factories are closed?

    If you are for tax cuts. How do you spend in the economy with half the goods made overseas? How does that spur growth if you buy foreign made products?

    What widgets can we make here and not some other country?

    If our infrastructure is approaching a hundred years old? Should we not fix the infrastructure?

    If your house is falling apart. Do you fix your house?

  13. reid says:

    Gerry, how many times do they have to tell you, big government is not the answer! Never mind that much of our infrastructure wouldn’t have been built in the first place without government, government is evil and dumb and stuff!

  14. Gerry W. says:

    If government is not an answer to some things, then what is the answer? I do not hear any answers from the right. Just mindless rhetoric. Free markets, the constitution, and God and country is not an answer. Problems arise and we still have to deal with them. Why is it, that coaches can coach, CEO’s can manage, but the president-the biggest CEO of our cannot manage?

    What if we have games where coaches do not coach or is not needed. Or how about CEO’s not managing? We have problems and we need to deal with them instead of hiding behind tax cuts all the time. I am not against cutting government. That is a problem. But ignoring problems is just as bad.

    The intestate cost billions. And no private company could have done it alone. It took the government, just as much as putting a man on the moon. No private company has put a man on the moon.

  15. reid says:

    I’m with you, Gerry. I don’t understand the simplistic thinking of a lot of these tea party people. They’ve been brainwashed into thinking “government bad!” and “liberals bad!” while unions are attacked, the wealthy and corporations get unending tax cuts, and infrastructure and fundamental economic problems are ignored. But they can shout their feel-good slogans and vote R to show those Dimocrats, har har!

  16. Hey Norm says:

    1). The tea party is against any tax increase of any kind. You cannot be Fiscally Responsible without looking at both spending cuts and revenue increases. Refusing to consider revenue increases is delusional.
    2). Limited government is a substance free talking point. I went to public schools. Last week when I flew on business the FAA kept me safe. The meat I ate last night was inspected by the FDA. When a power line outside my house caught fire last winter the government run FD put it out. My parents recieve SS and Medicare. The government is a solution to a host of my problems. I’ll bet yours to in ways you don’t even realize. Efficient Government is a laudable goal. Limited government is a mindless talking point.
    3). The ACA is a free market solution enabling those who cannot afford insurance to be able to take responsibilty. The tea party is against the ACA. Explain this.
    4). The tea party is only interested in the rule of law as they see it. Hence their support for racial profiling.
    5). Where was the tea party when the US was invading and occupying another sovereign nation. Supporting it – that’s where.

    But hey….maybe if you keep it up long enough you’ll be able to keep the government out of your Medicare.