The Tea Party Is Unpopular, Powerful

Enten points out that Tea Party support is dwindling:

The latest George Washington University Battleground poll found that just 19% of Americans said they would consider themselves a member of the Tea Party. The NBC News / Wall Street Journal survey found a record high 70% of Americans would say they were not members. Asked slightly differently, the last CNN / ORC survey discovered that only 28% of Americans held a favorable view of the Tea Party movement, while a record high 56% of Americans held an unfavorable view.

This polling is a major change from just three years ago. Before the the 2010 midterms, NBC / Wall Street Journal pegged the percentage of Tea Party supporters at about 30%, while 60% said they were not. In terms of the margin between the two sides, it’s been a drop of 20pt against the Tea Party over the past three years.

But Sabato finds that the Tea Party still has a very strong hold on the GOP:

Tea Party supporters now dominate the activist base of the Republican Party. In 2012 they made up nearly two-thirds of those who reported voting in Republican presidential primaries, and in 2014 they may well make up an even larger majority of those voting in what are likely to be very low turnout congressional primaries. Some might argue that the recent special election GOP primary in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District might augur well for the Republican establishment as the establishment-backed candidate defeated the Tea Party-backed one. However, it was a narrow five-point win that saw overwhelming resources put at the establishment candidate’s disposal. If anything, the ANES survey data suggest that a more realistic scenario in next year’s primaries is that more establishment Republican incumbents will be unseated by Tea Party challengers.