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. steve

    lets get all the teaparty folks on board with getting rid of those folks in congress that voted for the last job stimulus bill. the gop wants smaller govt. and no more debt, then why do they vote for the stimulus? lets get rid of those folks. and while we are at it. lets get rid of the biggest handout ssn. it shouldnt be govt. business to tell me how to retire just like healthcare. plus it would be smaller govt. and third congress wouldnt have that pot of money to steal from. So lets go tea party people lets just clean house. However with the ssn issue you would still have to put the same amount of money that goes to ssn now into a ira or a 401 plan. why wouldnt it work? I dont want the feds telling me how to save or require me to save for others who dont work for 30 years or more. ITS NOT THE TEA PARTY WAY> !!!!! COME ON and write your congress person. GET ON WITH THIS> LETS PAY THEM BACK FOR HEALTH CARE AND STOP THE MADNESS.


    March 24, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. gt

    throw both parties out !!!! .. we need term limits.....we need a new direction,,,,lets rid congress of the likes of spector , mccain , byrd , lehay, and the rest of the dry docks who are power grabbers...

    March 24, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Dave, the Truthteller

    The "Tea Party" movement is just that – a movement. Fielding a candidate, in my opinion, defeats the purpose. They should simply match their criteria against the party or candidate that makes the closest match and then vote.
    On another note – Gee, what happened to the "Coffee Party"? Ha Ha, just another media gimick....

    March 24, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. TomInRochNY

    Go Tea Party! Help the Ds out as much as you can. 😉

    March 24, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Republicans are Repugnant Taliban

    This poll just clearifys what we have been saying all along, Tea Partiers are nothing more than 'white' disgruntled Repugliban, nothing more and certainly not independents as so many try to claim. Not sure why they expected anyone to believe otherwise anyway since one of thei main offices is in the same building as the Repugliban campaign headquarters and people working in one work in the other as well. This just verifies there is a split in the Repugliban party and it could quite possibly affect November's elections for Repugliban. I have little doubt that by this Fall the Tea Party will disipate and become no more once they realize they are NOT drawing people away from the Democrats which I feel was their original plan. Oh well, nothing of any importance lost here, one stupid Repugliban is as bad as another.

    March 24, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Term Limits

    That would be the reason Harry Reid is encouraging them, and Rush is reminding people you get what you vote (or don't) vote for, like it or not there really can only be 2 candidates on the November ballot if getting these liberal idiots out. I don't care if its a republican or a conservative third party/independent.

    March 24, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Limbaugh Cheese

    They smell like Rush,rotten to the core.hahaha

    March 24, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Gloria

    I am proud to be a DEMOCRAT and shame on you Teabaggers but keep it up because you will loose. You all are seen as a bunch of sour grape Republicans who are not only the Party of NO but also racist, bigots and just plain disrespectful. Go Away!!!

    March 24, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |

    So, the tea baggers are mostly white and Republican, what a surprise!! Nothing but a bunch of bigots coming together to protest the presidents policies no matter what they are. These people do not represent America at all.

    March 24, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Dean

    13 percent of American voters who say they are part of the Tea Party movement So much for your majority crap huh.

    March 24, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    The Tea Party could very well be the Republicans Waterloo in November–Rep. candidates go down the loo with "water" from the tea party candidates. More power to the Tea Party!!!

    March 24, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. SocialismBad

    Well if Tea Party people are stupid enough to run candidates and vote for them then they will deserve the victory that they hand to the DemocRATS. As matter of fact, the DemocRATS are encouraging them to run. It is the ONLY hope they have of avoiding an electoral slaughterhouse in November.

    Ross Perot's candidacy handed the Presidency to Bill Clinton. I think everybody learned the lesson after that disaster.

    March 24, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. ray

    yes, yes, i keep saying that this racists tea party movement wants this country to be all white, same as the republicans. these people hates balcks, immigrants and any other colour people. the republicans and the tea party are sheeps in wolf clothing,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bottom line here is that we have a black president and the white people dont like it, wake up american and see the republicans for who they are............we have immigrants dying in both wars and the racists in both parties, the tea party and the republicans are just trying to blame all immigrants and colour for the problems that the republicans and bush created over the last eight years. remember white people, 911 was unders bush and the republicans ,,,

    March 24, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Rebecca

    The Tea Party could very well be the Republicans Waterloo in November–Rep. candidates go down the loo with "water" from the tea party candidates. More power to the Tea Party!!!

    March 24, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. Stacie

    Is everyone aware that the next large tea parties are scheduled for April 19th? This is a big holiday for the militias, Waco and Oklahoma City. That date wasn't picked by accident.....

    March 24, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    Since Obama is all about the politics, I guess we might start seeing him campaigning for some Tea Party candidates? This would be his best hope of not having to deal with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate.

    March 24, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Pat in Omaha

    Please, not vote for those who promote division, hate and
    prejudice. We are a great country, but some are beginning to fall for
    the messages of fear and mistrust! Nations that promote the above, eventually meet disaster..........learn from the lessons of history.
    Please, people, please!

    March 24, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. sammieb51

    Bring 'em on .... the biggest argument they have to overcome - "why did you NOT protest any excess spending in the early to mid term of President Bush, who ran up this huge deficit, with China, with a lockstep Republican majority". They have no credibility with me at all -the chose to ignore everything going on thru November, 2008. Now they want to whine and blame someone else. Give me a break.

    March 24, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    you're dreaming.

    March 24, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. scott

    Please, please run a Tea Party third party member. It will work, you can do it, change the world, put the right back in the country. ')

    March 24, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Tommy P

    Most to the tea baggers are just right wing republicans angry that a black man is in charge. They let Bush do as he pleased for 8 years and didnt utter a word, but the minute Obama took over they crawled out from underneath their rocks.

    Once a rich, white, male republican is elected to the presidency these losers will slither back under the rocks and we will never hear from them again.

    March 24, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. stop the nonsense

    Tea Party members are Republican and white?
    They are older, White, super conservative and there are no people of color in any pictures!
    PLEASE run a canddate in every district!

    March 24, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Mike S.

    I don't understand how another white Republican party can be considered a third party. The teabaggers are just the lunatic fringe of the Republican party: the Limbaughs, Palins and Hannitys... which is basically the core base of the main Republican party. Not good news for them. Waterloo in 2012.

    March 24, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. Justin

    I'd love for the Tea Party to field its own candidates, but I doubt they have the guts. When the rubber hits the road, they'll hold their noses and vote the straight GOP party-line.

    That's because they aren't true, independent, third-party voices, just a bunch of GOPers who want to deny responsibility for the Bush Administration's profligate policies.

    Whatever you might think of the Democrats, you can't vote GOP this year and not be voting for the same politicians who drove this country to the brink of bankruptcy.

    It's still the same guys, folks.

    March 24, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  25. living in America

    Where is the WEED PARTY since the bill has been signed. Oh I forgot follow the smoke.

    March 24, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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