Is the Tea Party over?
There's a new parlor game in your nation's capital, played by reporters and pundits who begin with a single question: Is the Tea Party dead? Endlessly entertaining to ponder, it's a question whose answer depends on your definition of the Tea Party movement.
Are you talking about the 900 grassroots Tea Party groups in 2010 whose numbers have now dwindled to 600? Or the popularity of the movement among most Americans?
Or do you measure the "Tea Party" as a marketing plan by the right wing in its 50-year quest to bend the Republican Party to its will and bring the nation to its knees?
The new year kicked off with a poll that brought a smile to progressive faces: Rasmussen Reports, the Republican-tilting polling firm, found membership in the Tea Party movement among likely voters to have plummeted to a mere 8 percent. That’s a steep drop from 2010 when, just after the passage of the healthcare reform law, Rasmussen reported 24 percent of respondents calling themselves Tea Party members.