March 24th, 2010
01:22 PM ET
4 years ago

Tea Party candidates could play spoiler role, says poll

Tea Party movement voters could give a boost to Democrats in November.
Tea Party movement voters could give a boost to Democrats in November.

Washington (CNN) - Democrats will get a boost if the Tea Party movement fields its own candidates in this year's Congressional elections, according to a new national poll.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday morning also indicates that the 13 percent of American voters who say they are part of the Tea Party movement tend to be mainly white and Republican.

According to the poll, Americans say they'll vote for a Republican over a Democrat in the November elections by a 44 to 39 percent margin.

But the addition of a Tea Party candidate to the ballot changes the dynamic: The Republican candidate drops dramatically to 25 percent and the Democrat only slightly to 36 percent, while 15 percent would back the Tea Party candidate.

"The Tea Party could be a Republican dream - or a GOP nightmare. Members could be a boon to the GOP if they are energized to support Republican candidates," says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But if the Tea Party were to run its own candidates for office, any votes its candidate received would to a very great extent be coming from the GOP column."

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last month also indicated that Tea Party activists would vote overwhelmingly Republican in a two-party race for Congress, and if they ran their own candidates it would hurt the Republican Party.

"Virtually every vote the Tea Party candidate gets in a hypothetical three-way race would be siphoned from the GOP candidate, potentially allowing the Democrats to win in districts that they might have otherwise lost," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "While the concept of an independent third party is extremely popular, most Americans, including most Tea Party supporters, don't favor a third party that would result in a winner who disagrees with them on most major issues."

According to the Quinnipiac University poll, nearly three-quarters of the voters who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement say they are Republicans or Independents who lean Republican, and just 16 percent say they are Democrats or Independents who lean Democratic. More than 75 percent who say they are part of the Tea Party movement say they voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, and 15 percent say they voted for Barack Obama. Nearly 9 in 10 are white.

Nearly half of those questioned say they don't know enough about the Tea Party movement to form an opinion, with 28 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party and 23 percent holding a negative opinion.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 16-21, with 1,907 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone, including 253 respondents who say they are part of the Tea Party movement. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points and plus or minus 6.2 percentage points for questions only of Tea Party movement members.


Filed under: Polls • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. Hamburgler

    Kind of how the Independents have siphoned off the Dem vote. About time I say.

    March 24, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. steve

    tea baggers = Taliban

    don't let the fundamentalists take over.

    we will no longer be America, land of the free

    we will be ruled by fundamentalist wingnuts !

    March 24, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. indie_in_indy

    So, most of the Tea Partiers are white and Republican? . . . Really? . . . Who was the genius who discovered this? . . .

    March 24, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. dan

    Tea Partyers MUST run their own candidates. Main stream republicans are out of touch with the republican base and are basically liberals masquerading as repubs. We have to see aTea Party people in every race in the country.

    March 24, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Captian Canada

    Angry white people who hover somewhere between Cro-magnon & Amoeba in the evolutionary scale. Sorry folks. The 50's are over. Blacks, Women & Hispanics can vote & hold office. It is no longer acceptable to linch them. This is nothing but bigotry. Pure & simple. The Tea Bags are stupid anti human rights bigots. Nothing more nothing less

    March 24, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Liberal and Very Proud of It

    Since 1968, America has moved so far to the "right." Well, America, you are now looking at the fruits of far-right Corporate America–and it's not nice.

    You read it here!

    March 24, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. will

    The reality of the US government two party system is a system that neither party will acknowledge but is the fact. The Democrats are moving towards a socialist government, and the Republicans are moving toward a facist government. A facist government is a government that is controlled by big business and corporations.

    March 24, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. randy

    Now just watch all the lying scum GOP politicians allign themselves with the teabaggers. I love watching these liars explain their politics to the media when asked how they view the teabaggers..It amazes me why anyone would side with a group of people that hate others because of the color of their skin...or was that another group of people that spat on the black senators and called them names as they entered the senate. Yea baby...real winners.

    March 24, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. mary

    sara palin ,and this tea party are operating as a terrist organization. also that mike vanderbouch .these are tactics that terrist use to terrorize people . the GOP needs to address these issues with their supporters.this is total unbelivable that this is happening today.

    March 24, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Chas in Iowa

    The "tea baggers" represent the far right of the far right wing and an assortment of nuts and bolts.
    Any candidates that align themselves with this movement has a very short life span but may indeed take some of the heat off of the democrats in the upcoming election.
    The guy with presidential hopes from Indiana that is going to Iowa to speak with the tea baggers might have just as well of stood up in a crowd and proclaimed "I'm a duck,....quack,quack".

    March 24, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Anthony R. Seta

    Tea Partiers are repbublicans. These folks will never split the conservative vote to let a Dem squeak by and win an election. Tea Party people are not political geniuses, but they understand that a 3rd party candidacy on their part would allow for the democratic candidate to win in most districts.

    This poll is nothing more than an overly pedant academic exercise with no real value other than debating by talking heads on cable TV.

    Also, 15% of Tea Partiers 'allegedly' voted for Obama???? That number seems awful high. I don't see how an Obama voter could find common cause with these Tea Partiers who are nothing more than disgruntled Palin voters that are still angry about the 2008 loss.

    March 24, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. blindbear

    The Tea Partiers are a loser for the Republicans. They're the people who drove the Repubs to the far right wing, much to the delight of the Democrats. If the TP'ers get power in the Republican Party by running their people as Republicans, the party will be held up to extortion and bullying by the TP'ers. "If you don't give us what we want, we'll run our own candidates", with the results outlined in the article.

    The Republicans need to dump the TP'ers and move to a more reasoned, less mob-rule, type of party, more in the middle than to the right. The Republicans should be saying "goodbye and good riddance".

    But they won't. They'll pander to the TP'ers and only dig themselves in deeper. They're the dinosaurs of the political world.

    March 24, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Jim

    from my perspective, I can not, in good conscience, vote for a candidate who hinders progress.

    after watching all the lies, mis-information, and obstructionist hoopula the republicans put forth on the most recent issue, it'll be a very very VERY long time before I can trust one in office.

    and thus ... it doesn't much matter what the tea baggers do

    March 24, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. katiec

    I hope the tea partiers continue on with the hate, anger, racism as the majority of the American people realize what narrow minded idiots they are. With the republican party cheering them on with their radical behavior it will sink them.

    March 24, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. Brenda

    All this means is the Republicans better get their act together and fast. I'd Republicans and Democrats, but I don't see the Democrats ever caring about anyone but themselves and a handout. As long as we who work everyday and pay the bills for those who are too lazy or dopped up to.

    March 24, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. Brian

    Republicans and Libertarians should embrace the Tea Party, dissolve their parties, and provide the structure and leadership that this grassroots movement so badly needs. America is energized against the socialism movement, and this energy should be harnessed – not wasted. This is the best way to get the job done.

    March 24, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. America

    If the TEA party doesn't make a move now, then when? It would be best to put a candidate up now for Primary and General Elections. Every month that pass, the movement will be stalled. There's a chance people may actually read and understand the health bill and begin to lose their passion to protest it. The time is now for the TEA party movement to take hold on American politics. If the housing market starts to improve, the stock market regain strength and most importantly people become employed; then the TEA party will only be a moment in time and achieve only a reputation of being an angry mob. Don't let opportunity slip away from the movement. The TEA party has already been labeled as the extreme racist sector of the Republican Party. Time is ticking.

    March 24, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. normajean

    The one thing the "Tea Partiers" must remember, is that while they were going wild with their disgusting treatment of the president,signs calling him a Nazi,and insulting slogans showing no respect for the office,let alone the man himself. We were embarrased that our country had been invaded by a bunch of 5 yr. old hoodlums and disgusted that they were getting away with this nasty attitude.Just remember that we, the Democratic Party were watching and listening . Your turn to watch at the next election.Goodbye repubs.

    March 24, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Ed Hendricks

    I guess if we think about it the Iraq war took what more then 4000 lives and this bozo as the ordasity to call the democrates baby killers. The Reb. get sicker every day.

    March 24, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Jann in Denver

    By supporting the Tea Party movement the GOP has cut its own throat. Even without the Tea Party, I don't for one minute belive the GOP is going to take as many seats as they are harping about. It's all smoke and mirrors as far as I'm concerned.

    March 24, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Joe Gaines

    who cares what the bigots do I just hope they don's waste any tea on their pretty whit sheet.

    March 24, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Slider

    What little star chamber did you socialists exit to come up with this nonsense?

    Socialists are afraid and there is every kind of evidence that they should be.

    All this power socialists are giving the federal government will one day be in the hands of your imposing and implacable political adversaries.

    What will Socialists do then? Go back into hiding in our schools and institutions?

    March 24, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Donatella

    I'm white and I won't vote for any candidate that the racist teaparty is a part of, as a matter of fact I won't vote for any republican period, they have no done anything to deserve my vote, just saying no is not going to impress everybody.

    March 24, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. What goes around

    And the Republicans will deserve no less. When you lay down with dogs....

    March 24, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. Capsaicin

    Sounds like a Democrats dream. Tea party candidates split the Republican vote, direct GOP anger and hate ads at other Republicans, and siphon off funding that normally would go to NRSC and other mainstream fundraisers. All to promote ideas that are IMHO usually too extreme for average moderate American citizens. Go Tea Party!

    On the other hand, if tea folks crumble and join the mainstream party (they will, as usual, in most cases–authoritarian runs strong), they will be disillusioned at too many ideals going down the toilet for the sake of pragmatic GOP obtaining power. Less excitement means less election effort.

    Now if the GOP wanted to really be heroic, they could double down, and write off 2010 or 2012 as losses for the sake of electing some of the most inspiring Tea Party ideal candidates–let moderates fall and follow the Tea Party dream of ascending to power as new Republican party that could be the Right's answer to Obama-nation. It would be a gutsy gamble on the future, precisely the type of heroic spirit the GOP contains in its soul.

    March 24, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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