GOP, Tea Party Come Out Hurt By Debt Ceiling Debate

The political implications of the debt ceiling debate will take some time to work out, and will in part be influenced by how the upcoming debate over the super committee and another round of budget cuts ends up going. Nonetheless, polling is starting to come out and, at least, initially, it looks like the GOP and the Tea Party have lost ground with the public as a result of their intransigence.

First, we’ve got a new CNN/Opinion Research Center poll that shows Republicans with their highest negative ratings among American adults since the Clinton Impeachment and the highest negative ratings for the Tea Party since the movement started:

The debt ceiling debate hurt Americans’ view of Republicans, bolstered their opinion of Democrats, and drove the tea party’s favorable ratings to a new low, a poll on Tuesday found.

Just 33 percent of Americans approve of the Republican Party, while 59 percent disapprove in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday. That’s a net negative 10-percentage-point shift from less than a month ago, when 41 percent of those surveyed by CNN said they had a favorable view of the GOP while 55 percent had an unfavorable one.

At the same time, Democrats’ numbers have improved slightly, with approval and disapproval each at 47 percent. In July, 45 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved, an net 4-point positive change.

The tea party movement fares slightly worse than the GOP and has its most dismal ratings since CNN began asking about the movement in polls in January 2010. Thirty-one percent said they see it favorably while 51 percent see it unfavorably. In July, those numbers were 37 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Second, a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll shows the public souring on the Tea Party-affiliated Members of Congress, many of whom were the most intransigent toward a deal of any kind during the debt ceiling negotiations:

When the 112th Congress started in January, more Americans anticipated a positive rather than negative role for the newly elected members affiliated with the tea party political movement. Now, a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll finds public opinion tilted the other way.

In the new poll, 29 percent say congressional representatives associated with the tea party have had a “mostly negative” effect, 11 percentage points higher than the number expecting a negative impact at the beginning of the term. Now, 22 percent see a “mostly positive” effect, down five points.

Still, as anticipated in January, about half of all Americans say the tea party supporters in Congress have either had “not much of an effect” or expressed no opinion.

The see-saw in public opinion on tea party-affiliated members is particularly apparent among Democrats and independents. In January, 30 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of independents said tea party members would have a mostly negative effect; those numbers have jumped to 49 and 28 percent, respectively.

This isn’t entirely surprising given the polling we saw during the debate that seemed to indicate that the public was more interesting in compromise than principles that they might not necessarily agree with. I’d be interested to see these questions re-polled in the wake of the downgrade and this week’s market turmoil.



FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, 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:

    Big take-away from the CNN Poll…the Tea Party is the Republican Party. The takeover is complete…muhahahahahahaha…..
    As you say…the worst numbers since they impeached Clinton for lying about extramarital sex (who has ever had extramarital sex and not lied about it). But never fear…House Member Michael Burgess is all for impeaching Obama. He doesn’t know why. He just does.
    Stupid is as stupid does.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    Well, I guess extortion doesn’t completely work…yeah, Norm, I saw that too…at this point, an impeachment would guarantee a second term for the President…he can only hope that a majority of Republicans are that stupid…

  3. legion says:

    Gee. If Boehner had tried to craft a plan that had more bipartisan support from the Senate Dems and the remaining sane members of his own party, steamrolling the TP wing instead of the other way around (a plan the made the TP happy, but steamrolled literally everyone else in both houses), image how different things would be… The Tea Party power over the GOP would be damaged, if not broken, the debt ceiling debate would not be something we’re just going to see again in a few months, the US wouldn’t have been downgraded, and we wouldn’t be staring down the barrel of a double-dip recession. If, if, if…

  4. Tlaloc says:

    who has ever had extramarital sex and not lied about it

    People with an open marriage. It’s amazing how much lying is no longer necessary when you stop having unreasonable expectations.

  5. PJ says:

    And now, according to Gallup’s latest poll, Obama is leading 45-39 against the fairy tale creature known as the generic republican.
    Might be an outlier, but considering how the republicans are tanking in other polls…

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I’d feel better if I thought Obama could run against the Tea Party. Unfortunately he’ll have to face a person, not a movement.

    Of course the Tea Party is to blame. Only the Tea Partiers fail to see that. What’s sad is the unwillingness and now, I think, inability of the GOP to oppose these people. It’s like watching a person with a weak immune system try to fight off an illness.

  7. sam says:

    Heh. The Batshit Crazy Brigade at the Townhall Meeting

    As Congress fans out across this great nation to do townhalls in districts and home states, please remember to keep us posted on what you see and hear — whether you’re attending townhalls or simply seeing reports in the local press.

    [Check out ] this report of what John McCain had to deal with this week at a Tea Party-deluged townhall in Gilbert, Arizona.

    There seem to have been two main topics of conversation: whether McCain would apologize for calling Tea Partiers hobbits and what he was going to do about the UN’s plans to take away their farms.

    From the Arizona Republic

    Tea-party activists called McCain “out of touch” when the senator said he didn’t know about United Nations “Agenda 21.”One man described the initiative as a “takeover of the United States of America by taking over our farms.”

    “First, our firearms, then our farms,” another man added.

    McCain said no Congress would allow that to happen, but that didn’t satisfy several in the room who subscribed to the theory.

    Gilbert has been a hotbed for the conservative tea-party movement for a few years, and groups have organized anti-tax rallies there and had a growing influence on local elections.

    There’s not enough tinfoil on the planet to wardrobe these freaks.

  8. Peterh says:

    The GOP should have been sent wandering the desert for 40 years after the bush years and the 2008 crash…..but nooooo…..America brings them back to slap us again… opinion of my fellow countrymen is at an all time low……

  9. john personna says:

    Agenda 21 is real!

  10. Hey Norm says:

    @ tlaloc…
    Then I suppose it wouldnt be extramarital.

  11. Peterh says:

    Then I suppose it wouldnt be extramarital.

    It’s still extramarital……just with a big “consent” sign hanging over it…..

  12. Tsar Nicholas says:

    We really need to raise the minimum voting age and to impose I.Q. tests as prerequisites to vote. Post haste. Zombieland no longer can be allowed to have a real say in the makeup of the government. The stakes have gotten too high. Failing that it’s only a matter of time before we devolve into a banana republic. Literally.

  13. A voice from another precinct says:

    @john personna: I’m sorry, I can’t see the connection between “sustainable forest management” and “taking away our farms.” Or is that your point?

  14. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Where I am living right now, we have a new joke:
    Q: What’s the difference between the United States and a banana republic?

    A: A banana republic has a larger, wealthier middle class and a better health care system.

    BTW: I wholeheartedly support you call for IQ testing for voters. Would you do us the honor of taking the first one so that we can establish the base line?

  15. john personna says:

    @A voice from another precinct:

    I was just amusing myself.

  16. Scott O. says:

    @A voice from another precinct:

    Agenda 21 is real, but not what the children of the tea believe about Agenda 21.

  17. Ernieyeball says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I’m all for raising the voting age to 60 so me and the other old farts can keep the rest of you from getting anything at all unless we say so.

  18. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: I think it’s more like an alcoholic trying not to twist the cap of that bottle one more time…

  19. JohnMcC says:

    Regarding ‘Agenda 21’, we were warned. The Repub candidate for Governor of Colorado said that bike path construction in Denver would bring us under the heel of the Blue Helmets: “Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, Maes warns”.

    And regarding IQ tests for voters, I hope most TeaPartiers will pass the 2nd time they take it, after they graduate from re-education camps.