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Politics

In Conservative Districts, Tea Party Losing Support

Attendees raise flags and banners showing their support of the tea party ideology.(Chet Susslin)

November 29, 2011

A new Pew Research Center analysis of recent surveys shows a worrisome trend for tea party Republicans: In districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus, adults are roughly split over whether they agree or disagree with the movement.

Twenty-five percent of adults living in districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus (there are sixty such districts) said in a poll earlier this month they agreed with the tea party while almost as many respondents -- 23 percent -- said they disagree. This is very conservative turf: only four of the 60 members represent districts that President Obama carried in 2008.

It's a sharp turnaround from March of 2010, when 31 percent of adults in tea party districts agreed while just 10 percent disagreed with the tea party.

And it's not just the tea party's image that has taken a hit in these districts: Overall, GOP favorability was underwater in these districts in an October survey, with 48 percent holding an unfavorable view and just 41 percent holding a favorable view of the Republican Party. It's worse for the GOP among the general public, where the fav/unfav split is 36/55 percent.

What all this suggests is the tea party malaise is being felt not only in moderate areas, but even in places where the Republican standard-bearers that have emerged have been tea party candidates. And that's taken a toll on the GOP's image as a whole in those districts.

One caveat: the sample sizes for the tea party districts are small. Pew did not provide sample sizes for each survey, but they reported a range of sample sizes for respondents in tea party districts that indicates the margin of error for each individual poll could be larger than +/- 7 percent.

Steven Shepard contributed

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