Poll: Tea Party support plummeting

A new Gallup poll shows that the tea party has lost major ground in terms of mainstream American support since last year’s crop of tea party candidates took office in January. Almost half of all Americans now have an unfavorable view of the tea party, compared to a third who hold a favorable view.

Opinion on the tea party had remained more or less steady, with around 41 percent disapproval and 38 percent approval, from the time Gallup pollsters asked about the tea party in March 2010 right up until January, the last time the question was asked. In the three months since, unfavorable opinions jumped to 47 percent, while favorable opinions dropped to 33 percent.

The results are consistent with what those surveyed had to say about Republicans in general. According to the same poll, about 47 percent of Americans also hold an unfavorable view of mainstream Republicans; what sets the tea party results apart is the plummeting favorable views, compared to those held toward all Republicans, at around 44 percent.

The poll did find, however, that more dedicated support or opposition to the party has been little affected in recent months. There’s been just a 3 percent rise in those who self-identify as “opponents” to the tea party since January (from 25 up to 28 percent), and the number of people who identify as “supporters” has remained steady at 30 percent. Unsurprisingly, those who identify as liberal were far more likely to hold unfavorable views, though there were a curious 10 percent of liberals and 13 percent of Obama supporters who said they look upon the tea party favorably.

The poll was conducted April 20 to 23, so Wednesday’s detonation of the birther conspiracy (save for a dedicated but vocal few making their doubts known primarily on the Internet) couldn’t have been a factor in the dwindling support of the tea party. More likely, widespread dissatisfaction with the government over its continued failure to address the budget crisis has caused the tea party defection. The results confirm anecdotal evidence of waning tea party support around the country.

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