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

Tea Party candidates could play spoiler role, says poll

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Carmelle


    It's time to decide if you are a true independent conservative party or the fringe of the republican party.

    You made your bed.

    March 24, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. cspurgeon

    Let the wackos stay in the wacko stay in the mad, devisive,ugly party of no.

    March 24, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. get real

    Yippeeee! Let's get this party started!

    March 24, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Dimslie

    Anyone who supports a third party candidate is an idiot. It doesn't matter whether they're conservative or liberal, they're idiots that can't understand basic arithmetic. Fight your battles in the primaries and work to take over your party. It's what the Communists have done with the Democrat Party and it works.

    March 24, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Jim - PA

    Polling is absolute nonsense and anyone who believes the percentages needs to start thinking for themselves. I love how the media tries to manipulate public opinion by saying the majority (they usually survey 1,000 – 2,000 people) of the country feels this way or that way.

    March 24, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. joel palmer

    GOP will become first OUT party to lose seats in an off year election; you heard it here first

    March 24, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. BlackMANinterested..........

    I truly wonder who "these people" polled are......................sounds like they are all GOP'ers. So no wonder CNN's polls turn out they way the do. WHAT a triflin lot they are.

    March 24, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. Marge

    Oh don't you just love that headline..Dems in trouble. Since the tea bags aka kkk are republican anyway and would vote republican WHY IN
    HADES would Democrats be in trouble.

    Democrats sure as heck wouldn't vote for a tea bag(KKK) OR a republican and since there are more Democrats and a lot of sensible Republicans out there Democrats are not the ones in trouble. The corporate obstructionist republicans are in trouble.

    But Fox wanta be sister station CNN here is trying to get in the digs about Dems aren't they..Go on we know what you are by now.

    March 24, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Puuuleeeezzzzz!

    I think we should form a marijuana party, then we could fight over munchies!

    March 24, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. j

    Anything that keeps a Conservative from being elected is a good thing. Who needs another bigoted stick in the mud when there's work to be done for the American people.

    March 24, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. Vic of New York

    Go TEA party, GO! Don't let Republicans coop your movement!

    Remember it was REPUBLICAN George Bush who gave a $1.3 trillion UNFUNDED tax cut to the wealthiest people. YOU got screwed, paying for rich people's Porches with your hard earned money!

    Remember, it was REPUBLICAN George Bush who expanded Medicare Part-B to the tune of $350 Billion in UNFUNDED debt. Once again, YOU got screwed by REPUBLICANS to pay for other people's meds.

    You owe NOTHING to Republicans. They've only SCREWED you – and will do it again. Maybe it's time to screw them back ! ! !

    March 24, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Jin

    It is high time the Republican Party denounce its radical, right wing advocates of teabagger nonsense and get back to the business of "loyal opposition" before this gets any worse. Agent Orange and Turtleman are NOT the kind of Republican lawmakers we want representing us. They are pretty clearly puppets of financial special interests and willing to galvanize the unintelligent to help in their own oppression.

    March 24, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. britto-fl

    Please do elect your Barbie Queen what's her name...oh yes the kiss of death SaraH Palin (death panels).... Lets have the TeaPartiers afterall all the gop have done is promote their retoric. So why not?

    March 24, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So let me get this straight. If the local Tea Party doesn't like something about the local Republican candidates and decide to field their own, you could get a Democrat with 34% of the vote winning a traditional Republican district.
    I don't see what the problem is. It will finally marginalize a party that refuses to embrace the opinions and needs of the people they claim to court.

    March 24, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. cindy

    The GOP and the Tea Party Movement are one in the same....The Tea Party is just a way for the GOP to get there message of hate out there, without getting there hands dirty.....

    March 24, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. LacrosseMom

    The article says what I know, just by looking at the photos of the angry crowd in D.C.! They are white, angry and Republican! Duh.

    I predict though, that the Tea Party will actually hurt the Republicans in the end. Republicans are seen for whom they really are.....

    Sore losers
    Fear mongers

    Republicans are the opposite of what our Nation stands for, Freedom, Hope, Unity!

    March 24, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. El Gordo

    We can now add the tea party folks to the list of Conservative suckers who will vote Republican and get nothing. Conservatism is run by and for the wealthy class and corporate management. All political decisions are based on how the decision will affect the wealthy.

    Libertarians vote Republican but they never get smaller government, a market that is "free" from the domination of global corporations with their lobbyists and bribes.

    Fundamentalist Christians vote Republican but they never get any action on abortion, local control, community standards, censorship of TV and movies, and laws governing private morality. Christianity is never acknowledged as America's special religion in any way.

    Racists all vote Republican, but they never get any repeal of affirmative action laws, integration laws, etc. They are continuously provoked to outrage by Conservative operatives who emphasize Obama's race, religion, middle name, birth location, etc.

    Paranoid personalities all vote Republican, but they never get any acknowledgement of their conspiracy theories, birther theories, death panel theories, etc. However, they are all given wink-and-nod support by Conservative leaders who deny supporting them while winking at them. "You know I'm with you but I can't say it openly wink wink."

    Goldwater Conservatives all vote Republican but they never get smaller government, small businesses, local control, community standards, or any adjustment of economic processes to accommodate regional preferences. They get global corporations crushing mom-and-pop shops all over America.

    Now the tea party morons are being told that they must not ever ever run for office. They must vote Republican all the time and every time because the only alternative is Liberal-Lesbian-Communistic-Socialistic government for the exclusive benefit of welfare loafers.

    The strategy of Conservative leaders toward these groups is so obvious, I don't see how anyone can fall for it.

    March 24, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |

    "Tea Party movement tend to be mainly white and Republican"

    As if the entire country didn't know this already.

    March 24, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. AJ

    "that the 13 percent of American voters who say they are part of the Tea Party movement tend to be mainly white and Republican"

    You really think anyone who wasn't WHITE AND REPUBLICAN would pretend that Obama caused this fiscal disaster, and putting our future into the hands of a the mega corporations is the answer.

    March 24, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. Anne P

    I do not understand this country if this is true. Why on earth would people support those who don't support health them? Can you honestly say, as the so-called "christians" that you claim to be (tea baggers) that you do not support a sick child in need of healthcare, or someone who has cancer and has run out of coverage or been dropped? What is wrong with you? What happened to you to make you so selfish and hateful? Republicans care about their own pockets and their own political careers. it's been proven they develop their talking points to insight you and instill fear and hysteria, yet you continue to eat it all up and rant and rage over nothing. We've lost dignity in this country and we need it back. If you're so afraid of "big government" don't cash those Soc. Security checks. If Repubs are so against "socialist medicine", give up your cushy health care that we as tax payers are giving you! I want my country back. The world is watching and we look pretty nuts right now. The hysterical displays aren't helping.

    March 24, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. Tom in Wheaton, Illinois

    The most amazing aspect of this story is that out of 1,907, presumably randomly chosen, people, more than 12% said they were "Tea Party" supporters. 12%, REALLY? That's frightening. In the end, though, this "movement" will walk into the sunset like all radical movements in the past. It is a failure of the Republican leadership to not realize that pandering to the fringe is suicide in a Democracy where you need 51% to win.

    March 24, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Are these people for real?

    March 24, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Please give me address so that I can send a donation to their "Cause".

    March 24, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Tea baggers are nothing but RACISTS.... the new KKK

    March 24, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. mike

    If I was in charge of the Dems election strategy, I'd be campaigning against every single moderate GoPer by doing the following:

    Simply start issuing press releases in that district that the "Democratic Party is looking forward in seeing GoP candidate X back in Washington DC to continue the bipartisan effort candidate X is accustomed to doing & that candidate X is a strong ally in the GoP party for the moderate agenda."

    This will draw the irk of the Tea Party spoon-fed tools that this GoP candidate has got to go...

    Then a decent Dem candidate should have no problems beating down a tea party backed candidate ...

    March 24, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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