Support for tea party falls to record low

Louis Weisberg, Staff writer

Support for the tea party movement has fallen to an all-time low, according to a Gallup Poll released today.

Only 17 percent of adults surveyed nationwide consider themselves tea party supporters, according to the poll. That’s down by nearly half from the 32 percent support that the movement enjoyed in 2010. On the other hand, opposition to the tea party movement has dropped to 24 percent after peaking at 31 percent ahead of last year’s midterm elections.

The drop in support was fueled not by a switch to opposition, but rather an increase in the percentage of people who say they neither support nor oppose the tea party, which rose to a historic high of 54 percent.

Liberal Democrats are the movement’s strongest opponents. Fifty-nine percent of them opposed the tea party in the most recent polls, close to the 61 percent who opposed it in 2010.

The tea party arose during 2009 as a reaction against the 2008 victories of President Barack Obama and the Democratic takeover of both the U.S. House and Senate. In 2010, the movement played a key role in electing standard-bearers such Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Although the tea party has positioned itself as a grassroots movement, studies and investigations have shown that it was funded by the tobacco industry and the Koch brothers, who’ve used it to enact an anti-tax and anti-regulatory agenda as well as attempts to shift government-run programs, such as public schools and social security, to the for-profit sector.

In its report, Gallup noted that support for the tea party could ratchet up again as the 2016 elections heat up.

Opposition to the tea party has increased most among Americans with postgraduate educations, whose disapproval has grown from 36 percent in 2010 to 53 percent. Opposition has dropped among several groups, including: 18-29 years olds, people with low incomes and unmarried women. But most of the people in those groups have moved from opposition to no longer having an opinion about the movement.