Opinion Brief

Is America over the Tea Party?

Unfavorable views of the grassroots anti-tax movement are surging. Is this a post-midterms hangover, or has the nation really soured on the Tea Party?

Barack Obama isn't the only one facing record-low popularity ratings. The Tea Party, so influential in the 2010 midterms, is facing its worst-ever polling numbers. A CNN poll shows that 47 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of the grassroots movement (a number that's nearly doubled since January 2010), while only 32 percent of Americans view it favorably. The Tea Party's unpopularity surged among lower-income Americans in particular, rising 15 percentage points since last October. Is the Tea Party truly turning off America? (Watch Harry Reid discuss the poll.)

Yes. The Tea Party is just a faction of the same old GOP: The Tea Party's drop in popularity is easily explained, says Paul Waldman at American Prospect: "They're Republicans." At first, the Tea Party insisted it was "above partisanship," and critical of both parties. "This was always baloney," but the movement did a good job of persuading middle America otherwise. Now, the independents have figured it out.   "Sorting out the Tea Party"

No. The movement just needs to regain its focus: The Tea Party is "going through a hangover," says Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner. Perhaps they assumed that, since they won in November, the fight for lower spending and small government is over. But the battle over collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, for example, proves that's not true. Voters still aren't well-informed, and the press won't educate them on the issues. Tea Partiers need to step up their game and handle this themselves."Is the Tea Party pooped? It must keep making its case"

A weakened Tea Party will survive: Polls across the board now say Americans who once held ambivalent views about the Tea Party are now "coming to a more negative impression," says Nate Silver at The New York Times. This isn't "especially new" — voters have become slowly turned off by the Tea Party "over the course of the past 15 months or so." The Tea Party isn't spent just yet. But its role as an "electoral asset for Republicans" may soon be."Poll shows more Americans have unfavorable views of Tea Party"

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