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. BeverlyNC

    The Tea Party is the Republican Party. They are the ignorance, the hate, the lies, the fear, and the racism that the Republican Party embraces and never denies.

    These Republicans were polled by an extensive Harris Poll survey. Republicans believe President Obama is a "socialist" but cannot explain what socialism means. Republicans believe President Obama is not an American citizen and a subset of those do not know Hawaii is a State! Even 26% of Republicans believe President Obama is the Antichrist!! It only gets worse from there.

    How can we tolerate such ignorance, hate, and racism in our leaders? It's very obvious it is time to remove all Republicans from the House and Senate and replace them with intelligent leadership who understand and respect our government and will work to serve the People rather than spend all their time misleading the People and doing NOTHING to help the People.

    Name one thing a Republican has done for you other than say NO to everything designed to help you???

    Democrats are the Party of the People and have proven it with strong People-helping legislation all year. We should reward these Democrats for never abandoning us and fighting for us endlessly despite Republican lies and obstructionism. Democrats have delivered for us!

    March 24, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    Ah, some more of the old republican mantra of "be afraid, Dem's ... be very afraid". How utterly immature.

    Big suprise that the tea party activists would vote republican. My question is, just how many tea bagging activists are there throughout and why does Quinnipiac have contact with these tea baggers enough to continually poll them? 13% of the country are tea baggers? Very unlikely.

    It'd be my guess that 3/4 of the televised tea baggers were paid lobbyists . . . interesting that they are all still being polled.

    March 24, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Saw this coming a mile away. Of course, the Teatards were an astro-turf movement organized and funded by the GOP to help kill the HCR bill in order to create "Obama's Waterloo," nothing more...and there's already evidence that they are starting to dissolve. By October, we'll be asking "Teatards who?" because all the GOP plants helping fluff up the Teatards' numbers will have given up the ruse and gone back to campaigning hard for GOPers without the smoke and mirrors intended to make everyone think they were independents.

    March 24, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. Scott

    This is such a non story which just keeps getting written. The Tea Party is nothing but disgruntled republicans anyway, so I sure do not understand how their voting for the republican candidate is newsworthy or a big surprise. These people did not just appear on the scene when Obama became President. They were republicans who organized and became active, they may call themselves tea partiers but they are still dyed in the wool republicans. They follow republican candidates, they are supported by republican candidates and will vote for republican candidates. I must say I am glad they are not a part of the Democratic Party because we do not need or want their ilk within our ranks. When I was a young, dumb teenager I was a rascist and homophobe, but thank God I grew up and matured. Their support of and courting by the republicans (which is silly; it is like courting your wife because she wore a costume) will only hurt the republicans in the end. The Tea Partiers actions and words at the protests only further show their rancor and immaturity, and the House republicans cheering them on from the balcony cannot be shown enough to the masses. That this group swells the ranks of the republican party; from which they emerged, is a nonsensical myth.

    March 24, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. neon

    The teaparty bloc can only hurt the republicans in the mid-term elections. And as far as the 2012 presidential race. THE FIRST RETURNS ARE IN. BARACK OBAMA 32 MILLION – REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE 0

    March 24, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Grundoon

    Hmmmm . . . . I think I may like the tea-baggers now, but I'm still not going to join them.

    March 24, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. OCVet

    I am starting a new party, no tea/no coffee, just pure LOGIC. Anyone for a movement starting the Logical Party. All voices will be respected and heard. No cowtowing to corporations or 'wing nuts' on the left or right' allowed. We are looking for moderates with common sense and the decency to listen to your fellow American.

    March 24, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. Mike

    " 13 percent of American voters who say they are part of the Tea Party movement tend to be mainly white and Republican." So much for Mr. Independent! These are nothing, but a bunch of closet racists.

    March 24, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Jay

    Shhhh!!! Please don't let the idiots in on our little secret.

    Democrats should encourage as many Tea Party candidates to run as they possibly can.

    We'll get an even larger majority. LOL.

    March 24, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    Boy, I hope the teabaggers split the Republican vote. The GOP deserves all the misery it gets, given how destructive they were to our country under Georgie 'n Dick and how reprehensible their behavior has been ever since they LOST in November 2008 and President Obama has been in office.

    March 24, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. Vet in Midwest

    As a liberal I say... GO TEA PARTY GOOOO!!!


    March 24, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. Tyrone in New York City

    Tea Partiers.......lunatics, fanatics, and racists...way to go Republicants!

    March 24, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. David

    Not buying this. This is just what you hope will happen but it won't. GOP is going to back GOP just to make sure they get a Dem out of office. The cyle continues as America is led with a ring in its nose by the two-party scam.

    March 24, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Larry

    Now there is an option of four parties . . . Republican and Tea Party against Democrat and Progressive Party

    March 24, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. A Real American

    How'd this turn out in Dumb and Dumber?

    Something about they both blew it every time, and everybody else left those two losers behind.

    March 24, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. ran

    Stop with the polls already CNN. Your methods do not reflect the nation.

    Also, their are going to be a lot of "red faces" at the end of election time 2010 when more true Democrats and Independents gain seat and Republicans lose theirs.

    All the Republicans have to offer is fear/hate/obstructionism.

    March 24, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Phil The Engineer

    A local teabagger named Jack,
    Screams "Let's take our country back"
    He claims "I'm not a Nazi",
    But why did we not see
    Teabagggers when the Prez wasn't black?

    March 24, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Sue

    Tea Party members are not stupid. If they see that the Tea Party candidate/Independent candidate has no chance of winnig, they will vote for the Republican.

    This scenario played out in New Jersey. As soon as the voters realized that the Independent candidate had no chance of winning, they voted for Christie.

    I love this part of the poll-–it just goes to show what is going to happen in November--–"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."

    March 24, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. ATL Guy

    I personally don't see a distinction between the Tea Party and Republican Party. I think the Republicans ginned up the Tea Party so that anything stinky that happens doesn't get associated with the Republican Party and they can easily disassociate themself if it gets dicey.

    March 24, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Julia Zupeda


    Sarah Palin was their headliner at the "convention", remember.

    March 24, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Ann

    So now Axelrod knows what to do: he has to manipulate things so a Tea party candidate will be on the ballot. Wasn't Edwards gold for Obama? He was so good to be kept in the race until his love affair was .. suddenly.. discovered.

    March 24, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. joel palmer

    The tea baggers will hurt not help the gop; consistent with their behavior over the last year

    March 24, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. cjr

    No to the party of No on every level – the GOP has become the teaparty thugs!

    March 24, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. George

    The title really should be Republicans actively pray for continued high unemployment as the lone shot of retaking congress

    March 24, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Dean

    I don't think we need just a third party. I think we need a fourth and fifth also. Both current parties need to be split up so we stop having conservative Democrats making shady deals with liberal Democrats, and liberal Republicans making shady deals with conservative Republicans – none of which are beneficial to *THE PEOPLE*. Our current system is *not* working well, and it is only those in power (high-ranking Republicans and Democrats) who really want it to remain this way, and who spend all their time trying to convince people that another party would be a bad idea.

    March 24, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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