A CBS/New York Times poll released Friday (PDF) shows that support for the tea party, the arch-conservative wing of the Republican party, has been cut virtually in half since the 2010 elections, even as their elected representatives seem to be growing in clout.

The survey's historical data shows that tea party support peaked at 31 percent around the time of the 2010 elections, but has since declined to just 18 percent.

The steepest drop-off in people identifying themselves as members of the tea party came in just the last two months, as tea party Republicans in Congress held hostage an effort to raise the nation's debt limit until Democrats agreed to severe budget cuts.

As a consequence of that debate, the percentage of respondents who said the tea party had too much influence spiked, going from 27 percent in April to 43 percent in August.

Overall opinions of the tea party also sank dramatically during the same period, with 29 percent saying in April that they had an unfavorable view of the tea party, and 40 percent in August.

The survey also found that 63 percent of respondents wanted to see higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans: a sticking point for the tea party and other Republicans, who've risked their political futures on keeping taxes for the very rich at historic lows.

Image credit: Flickr commons.