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. Tom, St Paul

    Run with it 'baggers! The future of our nation depends on you! (We need you to blow up both yourselves and the rest of the GOP!)

    March 24, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Greg

    Sounds like the Republican Party is fracturing. A perfect time for Democrats to take advantage.

    March 24, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Bob44

    If any one nominated by the Tea Party ran, I would avoid him like the plague. The Tea Party has too many Mad Hatters associated with it: Palin, Beck, Limbaugh - AND as we have seen this past weekend with the Tea Partiers who screamed the N-word and expletives at black members of Congress - racists. In Washington DC a few months ago, there was a group at a Tea Party who had signs that read: "What this country needs is a good "Ass. Ass. In. Nation" and Obama's face in a target! That is scary and these people are too crazy!

    March 24, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Alex

    The Tea Party can claim to be neutral or bipartisan (or anti-partisan) all they want, the numbers are clear that conservatives support it. If they run candidates, especially a third-party presidential candidate you'll see the same bleed-off effect (possibly even moreso) that happened when liberals/Democrat-leaning voters supported Nader in 2000, taking enough votes away from Gore for us to end up with 8 years of Bush. The only way for this to work is for a 4-party system to emerge. Republicans and Tea-Party for the Right and Democrats and liberal Tea Party-equivalent (not Green party or Nader) on the Left. Then things might even up a bit. Mind you if that happens odds are the unelected Electoral College will choose the president because none of the 4 would get enough college votes on their own. Is the US ready for a coalition government, I wonder ...

    March 24, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Kitchen Police

    I can't figure out why the American voter wants to vote out the people that are trying to solve the mess we are in and vote for the lizard brains that put us in the mess. Happy lizard brain days are here again, and I guess,
    they'll stay?

    March 24, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. Chris

    Well, then. Democrats should play the same sort of hardball as Republicans do, by making sure that a Tea Party candidate is on the ballot wherever possible.

    March 24, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. felicia

    Now it's a warning for the gopigs, but for the dems it's the end it's over. cnn you people get on my last nerves, clearly you people are for the hateful people.

    March 24, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Lucullus

    44% over 39% of the people would vote republican in the next election? Are they out of their freaking minds? No matter what problem you may have with the Democrats they pale when compared to the republicans. Doesn't anyone remember 9 years ago? Doesn't anyone remember when daddy Bush was in charge? The republicans destroy everything they touch. Their views on the economy are to benefit the wealthy and they've been on the wrong side of every social issue for the last 100 years. They just don't give a s**t about the average American. How can anyone in their right mind vote for these criminals

    March 24, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Michael from Ventura

    Baggers, Birthers and Bigots- OH MY!! Thanks for being YOU! An example of what America is NOT about!

    March 24, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. Chris~Albany, NY

    Well they all tout how they are not asociated with republicans and all this bs, we'll find out just how true they stand, or are they the typical angry republcians.

    March 24, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. greg morris

    so.. let the hypocrisy test continue.. would "tea party" supporters vote for the same people, the neo-con gop, who bankrupted our country with their overwhelming support of the imperiolistic iraq conflict.

    if they truly are for small government, then they would not support a party, the republican party, who took away many of their freedoms, the patriot act, and who increased the size of our government..

    so tea partiers, are you true patriots or are you hypocrites?

    March 24, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. Wisconsonite - Republicans Do NOT Care About Working Class Americans

    Bring it GOP/TP . . . bring IT! We are going to crush you in the mid-terms! The tide is turning and you're all going to be swept out to sea for a very long time.

    March 24, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Democrat for Tea Party!

    Go Tea Party and get your candidates on the ballot. You will most certainly help us Democrats in retaining the majority in Congress.

    March 24, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. The Unsub

    Every Republican is wondering how to separate themselves for this "Frankentstein" called the Tea Party. They are realizing that they have created a monster!

    March 24, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Real American

    Go wingnuts, go!!! Please do field your right-of-Hitler/Palin candidates. And wingnuts, please also feel welcome to follow your convictions and refuse any form of "socialized medicine". The human race desperately needs to speed up the rate of evolution for removing genes coding for stupidity from the pool.

    March 24, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. 8 Years of King George II and now the Landed Gentry Scream “Let Them Eat Cake” to the Unemployed and Uninsured Serfs!

    Memo to the Tea Partiers:

    Subject: Why?

    1. When the Reds voted YES in 2003 for Prescription drug coverage for MEDICARE Part D when the CBO score said it would ADD to the deficit an additional 394 BILLION dollars.

    Where were the tea baggers protesting?

    2. When the Reds votee YES in 2003 for Tax Cuts for the rich when the CBO score said it would ADD to the deficit an additional 349 BILLION dollars.

    Where were the tea baggers protesting?

    3. When the Reds voted YES in 2001 for Tax Cuts when the CBO score said it would ADD to the deficit an additional 1.3 TRILLION?

    Where were the tea baggers protesting?

    Then a black man was elected as President and now these same cons have had a “Come to Jesus” meeting on “fiscal responsibility” and are sorrowful about “loading years of debt on the backs of our grandbabies“.

    1. When the Dems voted FOR health care and every Red voted NO for health care reform in 2010 when the CBO score said it would SUBTRACT 1.3 TRILLION from the deficit.

    WHY were the tea bagger protesting?

    I thought the Tea Party was for working class Americans AND deficit reduction?

    Please forgive us if some of us think the tea bagging movement has NEVER had anything to do with deficit reduction or “smaller government“ spending!

    March 24, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. R.B.

    I don't think the Tea Party represents America. Whenever I see their protests on tevelsion, I see older angry white people. How can this be representative of America? It appears they are a defined group with an obvious agenda. However, I don't think they represent all voters.

    March 24, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. CBR

    It is not surprising that the majority of the Tea Party membership is white and Republican. You only needed to watch television coverage to see that. Unfortunately we have been privy to their rudeness and anger. On the other hand they are just what the Republicans need and want. They can point to them and say that their ideas represent Americans. Someone needs to go back to the drawing board!

    I, for one, do not think that taxes are necessarily a bad thing. A lot of the money goes for programs and much of what we all need and want. Unfortunately we did pay for the 7 years of war without raising money or taxes. Now we are in a terrible mess because we have a huge deficit. I believe that all members of Congress need to stand up and say that we are fighting a war that has cost us billions over the seven years. Many companies made great profits during the war and we are left to pay for everything. If you want a good read, look up the names of the companies who won contracts during the war. See just who is or was part of the company before going to Washington.

    March 24, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. WDRussell

    The TeaParty will take credit for everybody who wins.
    If arrogance were brains they might reach positive territory

    March 24, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Nick

    Unlikely to happen. The GOP owns the Tea Party.

    March 24, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Peter T

    Third party candidates should be make more viable, without spoiler effects. Introduce run-off voting, either as instant run-off or with a second round between the two candidates with most votes: The voters can express their preferences and don't have to fear to favor the candidate that they are mopst opposed to. In this example, many sympathiser of the tea-parties could rank the candidates: first the Tea-party candidate, second the Republican, third anyone else but the Democrat. The intriduction of run-off voting has often been decried by conservatives as a leftist project (see Nader in 2000) – now they could use it to their advantage.

    March 24, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. MikeH

    The Tea bag terrorists and the Republican NAZI's aren't much different. Both are soon going to merge into the McVeigh Party of Terror, and then require deployment of Federal Troops to hunt them down.

    March 24, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. The Voice

    White Republicans, what else is new, a few more adjectives for you: racist, violent, angry a black man is our President, neo-cons, ignorant, hate America.

    You know they could all move to South Carolina and raise their confederate flags and worship Wilson.

    March 24, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. CSM

    Teabaggers (LOL) are only fringe, extreme elements that represent only a very, very small minority of the population: far right wing whackos.

    March 24, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. lovable liberal

    Please stop trying to pretend that the Tea Parties are anything other than the extreme right wing of the already extreme Republican Party.

    March 24, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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