Gallup has a new poll out Thursday showing Tea Party support among Republicans and voters in general slipping to historic lows, if anything within a four-year span can be considered “historic”.
The only time the Tea Party has had less support among Americans in general was right before the 2012 elections, which didn’t turn out very well for their conservative Republican political candidates. There is plenty of other data showing conservative Republicans with good chances in the upcoming midterm elections, but it appears increasingly likely that it will be in spite of the Tea Party brand rather than because of it, as in 2010. As I wrote a few months after the 2012 elections, the Tea Party brand has become both meaningless and destructive. The same politicians are described as Tea Party conservatives and establishment moderates by different people and in different situations. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were both identified with the Tea Party in their 2010 Senate victories, but just two years later, one gave the official Republican response to the State of the Union, while the other was relegated to the online-only Tea Party response. Bill Cassidy, the leading Republican candidate for Senate against Mary Landrieu, is actually in the House Tea Party Caucus but was described by Sarah Palin in her endorsement of his primary opponent as a “moderate” picked by the “establishment”. And as the Gallup poll shows, the brand is even losing favor with Republicans. Only 41% of Republicans consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party now, compared to 61% at the time of the 2010 elections.
Coming on the heels of what has been dubbed the Tea Party losses in recent Republican primary elections from Texas to North Carolina, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. However it’s also not that relevant. Republicans still look likely to take back the Senate in November. The decline in Tea Party support has actually corresponded with an increase in overall Republican support.
And that shouldn’t be surprising either. Given that the Tea Party is generally seen by the general public as the most conservative, even radical wing of the party, the faster they can shed that albatross pendant and reclaim the mainstream Republican brand the better.