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Three Way Race: Democrat 40% Republican 21% Tea Party 18%

A congressional race with an official Tea Party candidate in the running appears to be good news for Democrats.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds that in a three-way congressional contest with a Tea Party candidate on the ballot, the Democrat picks up 40% of the vote. The Republican earns 21% support, while nearly as many (18%) favor the Tea Party candidate. Twenty-one percent (21%), however, remain undecided.

Not surprisingly, Republicans and unaffiliated voters are more likely to be undecided than Democrats. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is a slightly improved picture for Democrats from early February of last year. In a three-way matchup at that time, the Democrat earned 36% to the Republican's 25%, while the Tea Party candidate won 17% of the vote.

In a two-way race, Republicans continue to hold a modest advantage over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

In the new survey, the Tea Party candidate draws 28% support from GOP voters, while 85% of Democrats back their party's candidate. Just 45% of Republicans support the Republican candidate in the three-way matchup. Among voters not affiliated with either of the major parties, 15% like the Republican, 29% the Democrat and 25% the Tea Party candidate.

Sixteen percent (16%) of all voters now consider themselves members of the Tea Party movement, down from 21% at the end of last year. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they are not members, while another 15% are not sure.

Just 9% of voters rate the performance of Congress as good or excellent.

When it comes to the major issues facing the nation, 48% of voters say their views are closer to those of the average Tea Party member than to those of the average member of Congress. Just 22% say their views are closer to those of the average congressman. A plurality (49%) also thinks the Tea Party movement is good for the country.

Among Tea Party members, a plurality (48%) supports the Tea Party candidate, while 24% favor the Republican and 23% are undecided. Just five percent (5%) go for the Democrat.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of non-members support the Democrat and 19% the Republican. The Tea Party candidate earns only nine percent (9%) of the vote from this group, with 20% undecided.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Political Class voters prefer the Democratic candidate in a three-way race. Mainstream voters are much more narrowly divided, but they are least supportive of the Republican.

Voters see "Tea Party" a bit less negatively as a political label these days, while "liberal" and "progressive" have lost ground even among Democrats. "Conservative" remains the most favored description.

Voters now feel the agenda of congressional Republicans is nearly as extreme as that of Democrats in Congress.

Republican voters, however, are slightly less critical of the job their representatives in Congress are doing, but most still think the legislators are out of sync with the party base. Democratic voters, by contrast, are not as happy with the performance of their congressmen as they were a year ago.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 9, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC

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