Washington (CNN) – Citing a fresh CNN poll, the most powerful man in the Senate made some bold declarations about the Tea Party Wednesday: that the "country doesn't care much about the Tea Party," and that the Republican Party should not shackle itself to the conservative movement's demands regarding cuts to the federal budget.
House Speaker John Boehner is "getting a lot of pressure from the Tea Party folks," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said from the Senate floor.
Reid also said: "The people who care about the Tea Party are a very small number who care about them positively," adding, "Those who care about them negatively is very high – more than 50-percent."
Though his reference was not exactly accurate, Reid was pointing to numbers found in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning.
It shows that 32 percent of the public has a favorable view of the Tea Party movement – down five points since December – while 47 percent have an unfavorable view, up four points from December.
"The Tea Party's unpopularity continues to grow," Reid said. "Because the American people sees how unreasonable they are. So let me reiterate my hope that the Republican leadership recognizes they can't continue to be pulled to the right by the radical, unrealistic, unreasonable…faction: the Tea Party."
"If people want to move the country forward, they can't let the Tea Party call the shots," Reid said.
What Reid did not mention is that the Tea Party's unfavorable ratings somewhat mirror those for the Democratic and Republican parties.
CNN contacted leaders of three prominent Tea Party groups - the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Nation, and the Tea Party Patriots – but did not receive a response.
The CNN poll, and Reid's use of its numbers, comes as the clock ticks toward a possible government shutdown at the end of next week and concurrent negotiations to avoid it.
Democratic and Republican leaders have hit an impasse over how to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year that ends September 30. Lawmakers have passed two or three week funding extensions for the past two months.
While mentioning the House passed spending proposal that included $61 billion in cuts, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Wednesday, "It's time for Senate Democrats to pass a bill. The House has passed our bill and it's been nearly 40 days."
"Now the Senate says, 'We have a plan,'" Boehner added. "Well great. Pass the damn thing! Alright? And send it over here and let's have real negotiations."
Democrats have blasted the Republican spending cut proposal as too deep. As they make their case publicly, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate was caught in a candid moment pushing another word.
On a conference call, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, instructed senators from his party to describe GOP cuts as "extreme" and to blame the Tea Party for essentially holding Boehner hostage over the budget. Schumer was unaware that reporters were listening in on the conference call.
Though Republicans have blasted Schumer's comments as political brinksmanship, his words may ring true to some.
Tea Party groups, and their supporters, have recently threatened that GOP lawmakers should push for even larger spending cuts – or possibly face electoral challenges in 2012. And on Thursday, one of the largest of the groups – the Tea Party Patriots – will stage a Capitol Hill rally.
"Tell them: you want the full $100 billion in cuts they promised," the Patriots told its supporters on its website.
"We need bold leadership and we need it now."
–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN