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Tea Party Participation Up As Election Nears


Friday, October 08, 2010


Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Likely U.S. Voters now say they are Tea Party members or have close friends or family members who are part of the movement.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 17% describe themselves as members of the Tea Party, up four points from late August. Twelve percent (12%) more say they are not members themselves but have friends or family who are involved in the small government, anti-tax movement. (To see survey question wording, click here).

Just after Democrats in Congress passed the national health care bill in late March, 24% of voters said they were Tea Party members, with 10% more saying they had close friends or family members who were participants.

Unchanged from the previous survey are the 60% who now say they have no ties to the Tea Party, but that’s down from 69% in May. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.

Voters are now almost evenly divided in their views of the movement: 41% have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party; 40% view it unfavorably, and 19% are undecided. This is a slightly more critical assessment than was found in August.

Still, 47% believe the Tea Party movement is good for the country, a finding that hasn’t changed since May. Thirty-two percent (32%) say the movement is bad for America, while 14% say it’s neither.

The Tea Party movement arose out of voter unhappiness with the growth of government and spending under the Bush and Obama administrations. Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters now say they are angry at the policies of the federal government, with 43% who are Very Angry. Thirty-two percent (32%) don’t share that anger, with 14% who are Not At All Angry.

These findings show a continued lessening of anger overall, but the level of those who are Very Angry remains high. In previous surveys since last September, those angry at the government have ranged from 65% to 75%, with those who are Very Angry in the 33% to 46% range.

Thirty percent (30%) of Republicans and 17% of voters not affiliated with either major party say they are members of the Tea Party, compared to just five percent (5%) of Democrats.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement. Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats do not. Unaffiliateds are almost evenly divided in their views.

But then, most Democrats think most members of the Tea Party movement are racist. Most Republicans and unaffiliated voters disagree.

A plurality (47%) of unaffiliateds agrees with the vast majority (77%) of Republicans that the Tea Party is good for the country. Most Democrats (57%) regard it as a bad thing.

Of course, 69% of unaffiliated voters, along with 89% of Republicans, are angry at the current policies of the federal government. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of those in the president’s party are not very or not at all angry.

As is often the case, the gap is even wider between the Political Class and Mainstream voters. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Mainstream voters are angry about current government policies; 78% of the Political Class are not.

Most Mainstream voters (53%) have a favorable view of the Tea Party movement. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Political Class voters view it unfavorably.

One-in-four Mainstream voters (24%) are members of the Tea Party, along with just two percent (2%) of those in the Political Class.

“Conservative” is still the most positive political label you can attach to a candidate. But voters now have stronger reactions—positive and negative-- to the Tea Party label than they do to the more traditional labels.

Data collected by Rasmussen Reports in April provides some glimpses into the makeup of the Tea Party movement.

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 October 6-7, 2010 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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