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. truth

    These poor white racists can only harm the Republican party and America. No longer are people disliking people for the color of their skin; rather it is the content of their character. These people have no character.

    March 24, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. Dave

    Tea Baggers and independents are spoilers. They are both incapable
    of making rational decisions, and serve only to "throw a wrench in
    things. Kind of like the kid who made his team lose on purpose,

    March 24, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. gt

    a few church groups who listen to vp biden will cast a few votes too...that has to be one of the low class things a person could class,,, gutter language ,,, very very sad...vey sound like red neck , bar room , undeducated and classless...

    March 24, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Michael

    CNN, I do not know who you are polling, they must be repuglicans! I do not believe Americans are willing to put repuglicans back in office with a majority in the Senate and House of Representatives! After what the repuglicans did the last 8 yrs, squandering surplus left them by th Clinton Administration; not paying for child medicare, disability bill, or 2.7 trillion in tax cuts, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other programs totaling over 8 trillion dollars. Repuglicans left a 11 trillion dollar deficit, and a 1.3 trillion yearly deficit, 2 nuclear conflicts, a Wall Street, Banking, Mortgage, Auto, Education and Healthcare crisis for democrats! Repuglicans left this nation on the brink of collapse and now democrats are left to clean up the mess! I am shocked as a American that this President basically is not given his 4 years to turn this countr around, only 1 year! There is something sinister, racist and biased about the impatience of Whites (mainly repuglicans and independents) that is shouting through their rhetoric "WE WILL GIVE A WHITE MAN 8 YEARS TO MESS YOUR WORLD UP WITHOUT A PROTEST, BUT A BLACK MAN BETTER GET THE CLEANUP JOB DONE IN A YEAR." Cnn, no use polling White about these claims, because they will not be honest! CNN, YOUR POLLING NUMBERS ARE NOT REALISTIC OR CREDIBLE PERTAINING THE NOVEMBER ELECTION!

    March 24, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. cranker123

    wow the tea party is mostly white and republican im shocked
    they should call them self the white tea party

    March 24, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Not a nut-case!

    The Tea Party advocates have been shown to be people with less than average mental skills who are being played by the likes of Dick Armey for corporate interests with the backing of the GOP. They usually do not see that they are fighting against their own best interests in these demonstrations. Therefore, they probably will also fight against their own party interests as well. These are generally composed of people who blame Obama for Bush administration faults, the TARP bailout, government run deficits, and so forth. The fact that Obama is black is also a point of contention. So the Tea Party people are an amalgamation of malcontents being swayed by a myriad of concerns by one puppeteer and these people do not know the difference. Yes, they are dangerous!

    March 24, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Jim G Pa.

    What kind of activists are they when they support a party that is pro corporate America..In fact, the Supreme court ruling that was cheered by Republicans will give Corporations the right to spend trillions of dollars on campaigns. This will effectively kill any third party candidate or any third party effort. Their worship at the Republican alter is just plain ignorant..

    March 24, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Mike

    Any republican who is not a tea party candidate is actually a democrat. We saw those same "republicans" during W's era. I would rather elect a democrat then a crappy republican.

    March 24, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Chris from NC

    If the Tea Party can pull off a political convention of their own, aside from the GOP, they very well could become a third party. If anyone doubts this, look at the NY-23 race where they put their own candidate against the GOP and Democratis candidate, and look who won: the Democrat.

    The Republicans created this monster, now it's gotten out of hand. And I fear that they're going to pay a price for it.

    March 24, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Bubba

    Tea Baggers are 100% GOP.

    March 24, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. david, CA

    so, only 13 percent of those polled identify themselves as tea baggers. That's who Republicons go on and on about representing the "Will of The American People?"

    BTW, where I can donate to the teabag candidate?

    March 24, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Dan in San Marcos

    So do the Republicans or the Tea Baggers claim to own the motto "I've got mine, the heck with the rest of you.:?

    March 24, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Dr.Virginia Lubell

    There have been two mistakes made by both media and polls ... they have focused entirely on the conservative voice (opposing the government take over of health care) rather than the disenfranchised progressive voice (that wanted either Universal Health care or at the very least a Public Option).

    Media and polls have become hypnotized by the 'he who yells the loudest is right and the majority" yet there is a much more fundamental issue at play in the US ... the dismantling of the Constitution which states 'We The People' ... the collective willingness of Americans to balance individual rights/responsibilities with our collective rights/responsibilities.

    The conservative viewpoint would fundamentally change the Constitution to say "I The Person' or at least 'We The Corporation" or let the markets rule.

    Even CNN failed to continually point out that Progessive Dogs were as opposed as Blue Dogs. This has been a huge failure of both media and polls and elevated only one perspective while silencing the other.

    This is the symbolic split in this country.

    March 24, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Joseph-Ohio

    Funny how all of the sudden since the Republican Party will suffer if Tea Baggers have their own candidate it is a problem???? The Republican Party has always benefited from third party Independent involvement. Now all of the sudden since the thrid party now seems it will hurt them, all alarms are now sounding. Get over it! Bring a candidate that can win or get out the race, but please stop whinning about your challenges to get elected! That is part of the game, DEAL WITH IT!!!!!

    March 24, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. Louise

    the DEMS are scared of the Tea Party. They are using every effort to try and demonise them. I'm sorry but the Tea Party protest on Sunday was peaceful and on target, and maybe one person did say something (though there is no proof and wouldnt put it past a DEM to lie about this).
    You want to see horrible protests then look back on the lovely DEM supporters that protested against Bush, at the GOP conventions (remember the person who threw marbles at the feet of the horses that the police were riding....lovely).

    March 24, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. joel

    I love the Tea Party, now racist Republicans have a face. We no longer have to guess who they are because they are out in the open. Go Tea Party!

    March 24, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Romneygirl

    Smug obama is going down in 2012, and I cant wait to get behind Romney's campaign. Finally a smart businessman could be running the country!

    March 24, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Mickey

    The teabaggers are nothng but a racist fringe group that should be at the top of the FBI's list.

    March 24, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. so what?

    Away with this RACIST ORGANIZATION!!!

    March 24, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. The Real Tome Paine

    The Tea Party cannot stand anyone who is not totally with them. They have already been betrayed by Scott Brown and others, and they will run candidates in the Fall. The Dems will retain control, and the Tea Party people will implode.

    March 24, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Asten

    Hopefully they DO field in their own candidates so that the Democrats can maintain their grip on Congress lol. I never want to see "these" right wingers in power let alone the White House in 2012. time for the GOP to lose AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 24, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. so what?

    Tea Party or the White Supremacist Party? They are one and the same disguised as a Tea Party Movement!

    March 24, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. carrie

    If they turn out to be the spoiler for the mostly spoiled among us , then there is a reason for all things, like the old adage what goes around comes around!

    March 24, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. so what?

    The FBI should investigate this movement for repeated incidence of Hate Crime! Why are they so protected while blatantly breaking the law!

    March 24, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. Dave

    I suspect that the Tea Party will help the Repulicans just as much as the Hippies helped the Democrats in the late sixties. Good luck with that.

    March 24, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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