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. Cindy from Middle GA

    What else would you expect by a group with headliners such as Palin and Beck? "Math is hard" quoth Sarah

    March 24, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Marko

    The Tea Party folks are fantic enough to still run candidates and shoot themselves in the foot. Fantics only care about their cause and nothing else. Boy do I hope they run lots of candidates.

    March 24, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Michelle

    Oh, they'll all roll over and back into the fold before summer...they talk a good game, but since it is pointed out repeatedly that these are white, wealthy, retired, males (who are the least likely to vote anyway) who cares? They were never more than loud and obnoxious. How do you stand there and complain about taxes when they are LOWER? They are either incredibly stupid, easily led, or they need a hobby! This fixation on Obama as the Devil has to stop. If a white Demcrat had been elected and made the same decisions, there would not be this underhanded play to get rid of him. Not that Palin is underhanded...she came right out and put targets on the people she wants 'taken out' this fall. She is such a nice person.

    March 24, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. liberal wingnut

    I like the misleading media headline. GOP will get in line with fiscal conservatives or be ran over with the democrats.

    March 24, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. so what?

    There is nothing good about an organization that spreads Hate and Fear among the weak and ignorant!

    March 24, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. LOL!!!

    Wow I thought I'd never have a reason to actually enjoy the Tea Party's existence! lol

    March 24, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. martraco

    "I know your anger,
    I know your dreams,
    I'll be anything you want me to be.
    I'm the cult of personality."

    Give a man enough hope and he'll hang himself.

    March 24, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    As soon as more violence comes out, anyone with their pictures/videos with the teabaggers will be doomed. And there are plenty with their faces out there.

    America Al Quaeda = Teabaggers/Republicans/Conservaties. Too much hate being stirred up. It won't work.

    March 24, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. so what?

    With so many brainless people around, this organization could grow into a terror group! There is nothing good about an organization that spreads Hate and Fear among the weak and ignorant!

    March 24, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Independent

    I like how this sound: " Repeal and Replace Republican" or "Repeal and Replace GOP (Grand Obstructionist Party)" good slogan for a bumber sticker and a campaing....

    March 24, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Brian

    This is really not a new concept. The Green Party / Ralph Nader had an eerily similar effect on the Democratic Party – most notably in the 2000 Presidential election. In 4 key states, had Gore received only 60% of the Nader votes, he would have carried the state and, thus, won the Presidency.

    March 24, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    I'm not sure if the Tea Partiers are more associated with the Republicans or Liberterians, or maybe they should just form their own party. After their disgusting display last Sunday, I am not sure any civilized person would want to join with them. They should be venting against the Republicans, too, since they are the party of Wall Street and their 'borrow and spend' policies started by Ronald Reagan created the mess we are in now.

    March 24, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. hongli

    Tea Party Members are Republican DEAD-ENDERS .

    March 24, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. How about this little Americana...?

    Here are the POTUS..DoubleDouble-one-termers:

    OneOne......#11..1845-1849..James Knox Polk

    TwoTwo......#22..1885-1889..Grover Cleveland

    ThreeThree#33..1949-1953..Harry S Truman

    FourFour.....#44..Barack Hussein Obama

    We know from the past that history repeats......!!!!!!!!

    March 24, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Casy

    This is not an issue. The Tea Party candidates understand that they will HAVE to team up with the GOP. Which means the two parties need to work together to pick candidates they both can live with.

    They have one very important thing in common and that is to end the Obamination!

    Truth be told, right about now, I would vote for a White Supremacist candidate (and I am not white) if the choice is between this candidate and a liberal one, only because I know that the candidate would totally and completely not support Obama and his agenda. Times like these makes for unlikely allies and I am certain that as we speak, unlikely allies are being formed.......

    March 24, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Meggs

    You can forget the Tea Party playing spoiler to the GOP on any elections this year after Obamacare. With conservatives on all spectrums there is such utter contempt for the current Congressional leadership and Obama its a united front.

    March 24, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. cfrench

    WHAT?! The tea baggers are white? Well, what a surprising fact. Did the polsters ask how many of the tea baggers belong to the KKK? That would have been the next logical question. I suspect that too would turn out to be 9 out of 10.

    March 24, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. The Other Michael in Houston

    Once again no one asked me or anyone I know. Why are you setting the Republican Jihadist up for failure is crazy to me.You thought 70 million came out in November 2008 was a high number, wait until this November, we are going to crush that record as we finally rid American politics of the Republicna Jihadist Establishment.....say bye bye!

    March 24, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. Doug,lib jersey

    Unlike the Obama bot libs who are told what to say and think, the tea party Americans think for themselves and know their history. They know that the #1 priority for all decent Americans is to defeat the current national socialist movement in America before it becomes like the ones in the past in places like Germany.

    March 24, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Todd

    It is the patriotic duty of every true tea bagger to get out there and purify, purge, and attack with very malicious smear you can think up every RINO. Eviscerate them and drive them from the ranks. Your country needs you to do this.

    March 24, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. Bill

    You can bet the dems will game this system for all they're worth. It's what they do, ya see.

    March 24, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Bob

    Many Americans would support a third party, but the third party we need is not the nutters who make up the so-called Tea Party. Rather, we need a centrist third party that would occupy the middle ground between the existing major parties, both of which have a few good ideas but both of which are also too polarized and too bound up in incompetent philosophies of governance to tend to the nation's pressing business.

    But of the two major parties, it is the Republicans who are, by far, less fit to govern. Today's so-called conservative movement is advocating continuation of the intellectually and morally bankrupt philosophy of governenace that got us into the mess we are in now.

    Reagan cut taxes but not spending (he never even propsed a meaningful spending cut) and doubled our national debt. Bush 43 cut taxes but not spending and redoubled out national debt. On top of that, he got us into two wars (one necessary, one not, but both executed in a grossly incompetent manner) and ran us an additional $3T into the hole.

    Of our last 4 Presidents, the two who were supposedly the most fiscally responsible account for fully 75% of our national debt. The one who was supposedly from the "tax and spend" side of the aisle is the only one who balanced the budget and was starting to pay down the debt.

    As to the larger issue of governance, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were said to be philosophical soulmates. Thatcher privatized in the UK while Reagan privatized here. But Thatcher's privatization was to get government out of the business of being in business. Reagan's privatization was to get government out of the business of governing.

    Republican Party efforts to deregulate the financial sector, and their refusal under Bush 43 to use the regulatory powers that remained in the way intended, created the conditions that led to the financial market meltdown we are now suffering from (thank you, Phil Gramm, for being too stupid to understand that markets cannot be trusted to always do what is right, and thank you Bill Clinton for being stupid enough to sign Gramm's deregulation bill).

    March 24, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Thecurly1

    This tea party "movement" represents the extreme side of the republican party. It is insulting to see people of this group yelling racial slurs and taunting congress people because of their sexuality. The tea party to me represents a group of people that hate this country, don't like the government, don't like minorities, don't like gay's, and could care less for those that are poor or less fortunate. This group represents the extreme direction that the republican party has taken.

    March 24, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. Robert

    This is excellent news. As a Democrat, I wholeheartedly encourage the Tea Party "movement" to field as many candidates as possible! It will help ensure that Democrats stay in control of the House and Senate!

    March 24, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Donna from Colorado Springs

    The hatefulness and dangerous attitude that the tea party people are showing to the country WILL be the Republican partys worst nightmare! The more childish and destructive they are, the better for the Dems. Plus, the Republicans who applaud and condone their behavior will also suffer. The American people are not stupid and we have VERY LONG MEMORYS! We don't like the revenge mode that they are currently in, and it's only going to get worse. But with Limbaugh, Beck and Malkin stoking the fire, the rest of us sensible and adult citizens will just sit back, smile, and watch them self-destruct. They tried this trash talking, lying and hate filled marchs during the campaign, and it didn't work then. Some people never learn from their mistakes, so let them go ahead and act like spoiled children!

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