Poll: The More Americans Learn About Tea Party, the Less They Like It

A new Opinion Research poll from CNN shows the Tea Party movement's unpopularity climbing. "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," according to the CNN Web site.

What I find particularly interesting about this month's poll results as compared to those of January 2010 is that the percentage of people who hold a favorable view of the Tea Party movement has remained pretty steady: 33 percent in January of last year, and 32 percent in March 2011. What's changed is the number of people who have heard of the Tea Party movement -- 24 percent in January of last year, compared to just 7 percent this month.

The takeaway: The more Americans learn about the Tea Party movement, the less they like it. In fact, at present, they dislike it as much as they do either of the major political parties. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties are held in low esteem by 48 percent of the public, according to the CNN poll. And their favorable ratings are in the same ballpark: 46 percent view the Dems favorably, while 44 percent view the Republicans with favor.

But despite those pox-on-all-their-houses results, there's a more troubling trend for the Tea Party movement: an upward trend on those unfavorable numbers, while the percentage who view the political parties unfavorably has remained pretty steady over the course of the last year.

That grim news didn't stop Tea Party supporters from bringing their ire to the U.S. Capitol today, however, for a rally hosted by the FreedomWorks-affiliated Tea Party Patriots, called to demand that Congress cut $100 billion in government spending, just as those Tea Party congresspeople promised their ardent constituents in order to get their votes.

Slate's David Weigel reported his estimate that the rally probably drew only around 200 to the Capitol grounds. Calling media attention to the rally "intense," Weigel wrote that "there seemed to be around four protesters for every reporter."

He cautions, however, not to take the rally's size as an indicator of waning Tea Party power. The Tea Partiers came to lobby their members of Congress, and 200 citizen lobbyists can be quite a show of force.

So the question becomes, will the public's dislike of the Tea Party movement keep the movement from doing the damage it wishes to inflict on the federal budget? With its recent spate of victories in Congress, it may take a while for public opinion to catch up with the movement. Don't expect the Tea Party agenda to stop dead in its tracks anytime soon.

AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at March 31, 2011, 10:27am

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