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The Tea Party movement has surged ahead of both the Democratic and Republican parties in the polls, with 41 percent of respondents in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey giving the mostly conservative, limited-government activists a favorable rating. Democrats got a positive rating from just 35 percent, and Republicans from 28 percent of those polled. Will the tea partiers be an electoral force in the 2010 midterm elections? If so, will they hurt Democrats, or help them by splintering the conservative vote? (Watch a Fox report about the Tea Party's popularity)
This is one more nail in the Democrats' coffin: So much for the "great Democratic alignment" signaled by their sweep in the 2008 elections, says Allahpundit in Hot Air. This is, to some extent, "ironclad proof of a surge in fiscally conservative populism across the nation"—and of the power of Fox News' "pro–tea party megaphone." Clearly, Democrats are going to pay dearly for pushing the costly and divisive Obamacare.
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The poll is utterly meaningless: "This just seems dumb," says Eric Boehlert in Media Matters. The Tea Party doesn't exist—it's a "faceless movement" with no candidates or platform, "so people can pretend it's whatever they want it to be. It's an utterly pointless polling exercise because people have an ingrained idea of who the Democrats are and what they stand for politically."
It's dangerous to shrug off the numbers: What these favorability ratings mean, says Johanna Neuman in the Los Angeles Times, is that if the Tea Party movement were a political party, "it would be at the top of the food chain." With President Obama's poll numbers dropping, this might worry Democrats, but the interesting thing is that "grass-roots anger at the Democrats" seems to be hurting the Republicans just as much.