The Tea Party Shut Down the Government and All They Got Were These Lousy Poll Numbers

Support for the conservative grassroots movement has plunged to an all-time low, as even GOP voters have soured.

A crowd gathers at the World War Two Memorial to support a rally centered around reopening national memorials closed by the government shutdown, supported by military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans, on October 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was inspired by a desire to re-open national memorials, including the World War Two Memorial in Washington DC, though the rally also focused on the government shutdown and frustrations against President Obama.
National Journal
Alex Seitz-Wald
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Alex Seitz-Wald
Oct. 16, 2013, 1:46 p.m.

Like any game of chick­en, the gov­ern­ment shut­down was al­ways an all-or-noth­ing pro­pos­i­tion for the tea party. Now, with a deal about to be done, it’s pretty clear that what they got was noth­ing.

The move­ment, run­ning out of steam after the 2012 elec­tion, got a shot in the arm after the IRS scan­dal broke, then roared back to life to sup­port Ted Cruz’s de­fund-or-shut­down move­ment over Obama­care. For a mo­ment this fall, it even felt like a bit like 2010.

But un­like 2010, when the tea party helped Re­pub­lic­ans win 60 House seats, this time the move­ment has only hurt it­self—per­haps mor­tally. A new Pew sur­vey out today shows just how bad the dam­age is. The tea party is less pop­u­lar than ever, with nearly half of Amer­ic­ans hold­ing a neg­at­ive view of the move­ment and just 30 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans say­ing they view it fa­vor­ably. Just a third of GOP­ers say the tea-party move­ment is even part of their own party. 

Much of this col­lapse has happened since June, sug­gest­ing it was the gov­ern­ment shut­down that killed the beast. Demo­crats, Re­pub­lic­ans, and in­de­pend­ents all agree here.

And there’s now a huge split between tea party-Re­pub­lic­ans and non-tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans, re­flect­ing the split already vis­ible in Con­gress.

Nowhere in the Pew poll is this more evid­ent than in the num­bers for Ted Cruz, who emerged from ob­scur­ity to be­come the de facto lead­er of the right wing of his party. While his fa­vor­able rat­ing among tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans has ris­en since Ju­ly by 27 points—from 47 to 74—his un­fa­vor­able num­bers have ris­en 15 points among non-tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans over the same peri­od, from 16 to 31 per­cent.

Demo­crats were dinged, too, and Re­pub­lic­ans even more so, but the tea party got the worst of it.

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