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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

‘Tea Party’ Brand Now A Liability To ‘Tea Party’…And Republicans

Originally posted at The Brad Blog

Palm Beach Post’s George Bennet wrote last week about how so-called “Tea Party” groups seem to be running away from the “Tea Party” name in places like Florida.

The South Florida Tea Party, for example — the one that helped launch the national career of Sen. Marco Rubio and hosted Donald Trump while he was initially pretending to think about running for president — is changing its name to the National Liberty Federation.

“As Tea Party groups go,” observes Steven Benen at MaddowBlog, “the South Florida Tea Party was one of the bigger and better-organized outfits.”

But it’s little wonder these folks are running from the name. Their popularity, and their name brand, is now plummeting along with the fortunes of the congressional Republican Party. As Bennet notes, even right-wing pollsters like Rasmussen are finding that support for the Tea Party movement is absolutely cratering.

Rasmussen, a favorite polling firm of conservatives, found in a survey this month that only 8 percent of voters identify themselves as Tea Party members, down from a high of 24 percent shortly after passage of the federal health care law in 2010. The poll found 30 percent of voters had a favorable view of the Tea Party and 49 percent had a negative view.An October Rasmussen poll found 44 percent of voters considered “Tea Party” a negative label, eclipsing “liberal” as the most potent negative adjective.

And, again, he’s the Republican pollster. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds, according to Benen, that attitudes about the Tea Party are “abysmal.” “Just 9% have a ‘very positive’ impression of the so-called movement — an all-time low,” he writes, “while 32% have a ‘very negative’ impression — an all-time high. All told, the Tea Party’s favorability rating is down to just 23%, which is even lower than the GOP’s support and that of the NRA.”

“If the ‘movement’ still exists,” Benen argues, “it’s gasping for air — and relevance.”

But the problems for the Republican Party itself are much deeper than simply their association with the tainted Tea Party. Benen explains, for example, that “After discovering that there aren’t any Republicans left in the center,” the Republican Main Street Partnership, a D.C. outfit promoting moderate GOP lawmakers and policies, “dropped the ‘R’ word and became simply the Main Street Partnership.”

Little wonder about that. either. Democratic strategist Karen Finney noted yesterday at The Hill [emphasis added]…

As the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicated, 49 percent of Americans view the GOP negatively, compared to only 26 percent positively; additionally, a plurality says it will blame the GOP if [debt ceiling] talks fail. According to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, 47 percent of Americans blame congressional Republicans [more] for the difficulties of the “fiscal cliff” deal than they do President Obama (31 percent); only 30 percent of Republicans approve of the job congressional Republicans are doing, with 65 percent opposed, versus 59 percent of Democrats who approve of the job of congressional Democrats are doing, with 31 percent opposed.

And remember, that the 30 percent of Republicans who approve of the job congressional Republicans are doing is based on those who self-identify as Republicans. Many of those folks long ago left the party to become either “independents” and/or hardcore Tea Partiers. So those are really some abysmal numbers for the GOP.

So with Tea Party approval at an all-time low, and the Republican Party’s approval numbers in the toilet — even among Republicans — along with them, why would the GOP be dumb enough to continue allying itself with this “movement”? To paraphrase Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, they “got nowhere else to go!”

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