GOP Kind of Weirded Out by the Tea Party

Half of the GOP does not support the movement in a CNN poll

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Sure, polls show the general public growing somewhat weary of the Tea Party. But Republicans are starting to feel similarly? A new CNN/ORC poll shows Republicans split right down the middle on their support for the activist movement. "Roughly half (49 percent) of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they support the tea party movement or are active members, with roughly half (51 percent) saying that they have no feelings one way or another about the tea party or that they oppose the movement." The poll shows some interesting distinctions between Tea Partiers and Republicans, particularly when it comes to gender and beliefs:

The poll indicates that demographically, tea party Republicans are more likely to be male, older, and college educated, with non-tea party Republicans more likely to be younger, less educated, female, and less likely to say they are born-again or evangelical...

There is also disagreement on social issues: Tea party Republicans are roughly twice as likely to say that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and roughly half as likely to support gay marriage. Tea party Republicans are also roughly twice as likely to believe that the Social Security system should be replaced, and although most Republicans on either side disagree with the assertion that Social Security is a lie and a failure, tea party GOPers are much more likely to embrace that view.

The consistent conservative views across social and fiscal issues lends credence to Robert Putnam and David Campbell's notion in The New York Times that Tea Party enthusiasts "were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born." Giving his own spin on the poll's results, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said "Demographically, the tea party movement seems to hearken back to the 'angry white men' who were credited with the GOP's upset victory in the 1994 midterm elections. Ideologically, it effectively boils down to the century-old contest between the conservative and moderate wings of the party."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.