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
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
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.

What We're Following See More »
Clinton Foundation Staffers Steered Biz to Bill
7 hours ago

"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."

House Investigators Already Sharpening Their Spears for Clinton
16 hours ago

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz plans to spend "years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton." Chaffetz told the Washington Post: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

Clinton Super PAC Enters the House Fray
21 hours ago

Priorities USA, the super PAC aligned with the Clinton campaign, which has already gotten involved in two Senate races, is now expanding into House races. The group released a 30 second spot which serves to hit Donald Trump and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who is in a tough race to win re-election in Iowa's first congressional district. The super PAC's expansion into House and Senate races shows a high level of confidence in Clinton's standing against Trump.

House to Vote on Iran Sanctions Renewal in Lame Duck
21 hours ago

Republican House leaders are planning on taking up a vote to renew the Iran Sanctions Act as soon as the lame-duck session begins in mid-November. The law, which expires on Dec. 31, permits a host of sanctions against Iran's industries, defense, and government. The renewal will likely pass the House, but its status is unclear once it reaches the Senate, and a spokesman from the White House refused to say whether President Obama would sign it into law.

Trump Stops Holding Fundraisers to Benefit GOP
21 hours ago

Just two weeks from Nov. 8, Donald Trump's campaign is not scheduling anymore high-dollar fundraisers, the type which usually benefit the Republican Party as a whole. The move comes as a surprise and could be a big blow to the GOP's turnout operations. Many down-ballot candidates are relying on the party apparatus to turn out voters in their districts and/or states, something that could be compromised. The last formal fundraiser occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 19.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.