In a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, the ephemeral nature of the Tea Party movement is once again revealed. When asked for their opinion of Tea Parties, respondents were decidedly unenthusiastic.
April January Strongly Support 12% 15% Moderately Support 15% 20% Moderately Oppose 6% 8% Strongly Oppose 21% 11% Don’t Know Enough 45% 45%
While the total numbers for support and opposition are tied at 27%, the support numbers have declined since January and those strongly opposed have doubled. A mere 4% reported having attended a Tea Party rally or meeting. And, although little attention is usually paid to the “Don’t Know” response, 45 is a pretty high figure. Nearly half the country has no opinion at all about the Tea Party.
These numbers confirm previous polling that shows the Tea Party to be a much smaller phenomenon than the impression given to it by the media. It incorporates a tiny percentage of the population and is widely disliked. This disparity between the reality and the press coverage is something I detailed in two previous reports:
The Tea Party Delusion and The Phony Populism Of The Tea Crusades
Malice in Wonderland
The Tea Bag sag coincides with the plummeting popularity of the Tea Bag Hag, Sarah Palin. The CNN poll showed Palin’s favorability rating at 39% (55% unfavorable). 69% of respondents said that she is not qualified to be president. She came in third in preference rankings following Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. And while Obama beats all three in head-to-head match-ups, Palin fares the worst losing 55% to 42%. This confirms the findings of a Fox News poll in January that had Obama over Palin 55/31.
The facts notwithstanding, many in the media will continue to push the Myth of the Bagged Teasers as if it were a credible force in contemporary politics. They will saturate the air with coverage of tomorrow’s tax day Tea Bagging and pretend that this fringe (and often vulgar and violent) group deserves recognition. And Fox News will, once again lead the parade with its top anchors dispatched around the country to herald the phony movement that they helped to invent.
It’s particularly telling that Fox, and their partners in talk radio, have invested so much time and money in the Tea Crusades and have so little to show for it: 4% participation and overwhelming unfavorability. By any measure, that’s a lousy return on investment.
[Addendum] CBS also released a poll that asks Tea Partiers about themselves. The short story: They are old, white, Republican, Fox News junkies who believe that Obama is a foreign-born socialist. Surprise!