WASHINGTON — Support for the conservative Tea Party is slipping across America, even in areas that a year ago swept the movement’s first lawmakers to power in a devastating blow for Democrats, a new poll says.
And in a worrying sign for Republicans ahead of the November 2012 elections, the mainstream party’s image has fallen more dramatically in Tea Party districts than around the country as a whole, the Pew Research Center found in a survey released Tuesday.
The poll, conducted from November 9-14, found that 27 percent of Americans say they disagree with the fledgling Tea Party movement, while only 20 percent agree with its conservative agenda of lower taxes and smaller government.
Those figures have reversed since the November 2010 mid-term elections in which sweeping gains by Republicans and the Tea Party helped them retake control of the House of Representatives.
Since then Congress has been virtually paralyzed by bitter political battles with the Senate still controlled by President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.
During 2010 support for the Tea Party in some 60 House districts that are now represented by members of the Tea Party congressional caucus rose to about 33 percent, with about 18 percent disagreeing with their platform.
But that has slid in the past 12 months. Now in those same districts, about as many people agree with the Tea Party, some 25 percent, as disagree (23 percent).
And Pew found the image of the Republican Party has also fallen in Tea Party districts, with only 41 percent of people saying they have a favorable opinion of the Grand Old Party, while 48 percent said they had an unfavorable view.
Across the nation, 36 percent of people said they thought favorably of the Republicans down from 42 percent in March.
Despite the struggling economy and stubbornly high unemployment — issues set to dominate next year’s presidential and legislative elections — the Democrats seem to have lost less ground nationally.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 7.0 percent, found that nationally 46 percent remained favorable towards the Democrats, down from 50 percent in the summer.
In Tea Party districts, 39 percent of people said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party compared with 50 percent who were unfavorable.
“But the steep decline in GOP favorability in Tea Party districts means that these constituencies now view the Republican Party about as negatively as the Democratic Party,” the poll said.
Photo credit: Sage Ross