That's what the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds.
"The Tea Party Movement" was viewed positively by 31% and negatively by 30% of the NBC/WSJ respondents. That's better than the Republican Party (30% positive, 42% negative) and the Democratic Party (37% positive, 42% negative) alike.
So the Tea Party is going to take over the country, upsetting traditional power dynamics by ushering in a new wave of Constitution-thumping fiscal hawks this yeah that will take Washington by storm and all but eliminate the GOP establishment's power, by defeating Republican candidates in primaries across the country and taking House seats with third-party bids in the fall.
Ah, not so fast. Poll respondents like the Tea Party movement, but they don't want to vote for it as a third party. Hart/McInturff, the polling firm that conducted the survey, asked respondents if the Tea Party movement would "be a third party that you would be interested in voting for this year for Congress"; 21% said yes, and 54% said no.
Which is somewhat appropriate, since the Tea Party movement is not a political party. It is a political movement that, so far, has supported candidates in a less-than-organized way. But it's a movement, not a party. With anti-Washington, anti-incumbent sentiment rampant, perhaps that's why the movement is viewed more favorably than not. And just because people don't want to vote for the Tea Party as a third party, that doesn't mean they don't want to vote for GOP candidates who adhere to Tea Party ideals.
The poll includes telephone interviews with 1,000 adults (100 reached by cell phone) May 6-10, with a margin of error of +/-3.5%.