Tea Party supporter William Temple holds up a tea pot as he shouts against President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare overhaul outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 28, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
The Tea Party's relentless and unapologetic tactics to cut government spending by any means necessary--which some blame as having helped ignite the government shutdown that almost lead to the U.S. defaulting on its own debt--has caused the ultra-conservative movement to become less popular among Americans.
Over the past month, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his band of tea party-backed House conservatives proved just how much influence they have over the Republican Party in Washington. However, outside Washington, disapproval numbers for the Tea Party are soaring.
According to a new Pew Research poll, the Tea Party is less popular than ever, even among Republicans. Overall, nearly half of the public or 49 percent, has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while only 30 percent have a favorable opinion of the group.
The balance of opinion toward the Tea Party has turned more negative since June, when 37 percent viewed it favorably and 45 percent had an unfavorable opinion. And the Tea Party's image is much more negative today than it was three years ago.
While the Tea Party's favorability rating has fallen across most groups since June, the decline has been particularly dramatic among moderate and liberal Republicans. In the current survey, just 27 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable impression of the Tea Party, down from 46 percent in June.
According to the Washington Post, the Tea Party's negative image will leave the Republican candidates stuck between a rock and a hard place. WashPo writer Chris Cilliza writes:
"This polling bears out the broader problem for the Republican Party going forward. The tea party remains a potent force within the walls of Congress - thanks in large part to the fact that most Republican politicians live in fear of crossing their activist base and losing a primary. But, apart from the hard-core GOP activists, it's becoming less and less popular. The fact that just three in 10 independents now have favorable views of the tea party should be a warning to any 2016 Republican candidate that closely affiliating with the party's most conservative elements could be problematic in a general election. Of course, to win the nomination in 2016, you may well need those tea party activists on your side - or at least not strongly against you. Therein lies the rock-meet-hard-place that Republicans are in at the moment."