Tuesday, December 08, 2009

D's 36, TP's 23, R's 18

Is this good news or bad news?

A new Rasmussen poll suggests that the Tea Party movement is far and away more popular than the Republican Party it seeks to influence -- so much so that if it were a full-fledged political party, it would overtake the GOP on the generic Congressional ballot.

The question was phrased as follows: "Okay, suppose the Tea Party Movement organized itself as a political party. When thinking about the next election for Congress, would you vote for the Republican candidate from your district, the Democratic candidate from your district, or the Tea Party candidate from your district?"

The results: Democratic 36%, Tea Party 23%, Republican 18%.

Some Republicans think this means they would be in the lead, 41-36. That would be the easiest bat-down ever: "NY-23".

While some Republicans have expressed dismay over the emergence of the tea party movement, others have suggested that the GOP should embrace the group and its issues.

Tea party sympathizers recently proposed a resolution to make the RNC withhold its endorsement and funding unless candidates pass an "ideological purity test." The movement will hold its first national convention this January in Nashville, and Glenn Beck has indicated that he intends to stake out a more activist role in politics going forward by holding seminars across the country to educate conservatives on how to run for office without the support of a major political party.

But the Republican party has yet to determine whether or not they can harness the energy emanating from the right wing without being pulled out of the mainstream. This dilemma was highlighted by the GOP's November loss of a congressional seat it had held since the 1800s, after a tea party-supported candidate pressured the establishment Republican out of the race. That race suggested something rather striking: while the GOP may not be able to win without the support of the tea party movement, they might not be able to win with it running the show either.

Both Charles Kuffner and Barb at Kos don't like Rasmussen; I would happen to feel the same way about all polls personally. So accepting the numbers at face value, here are the questions ...

1. Can the TeaBaggers get on the ballot? Where they can, say goodbye to the establishment Republican candidate. The success that the movement has from city to county to state to state will vary greatly, but getting on the ballot may not be their smartest move ...

2. Rather than become a third party -- with all of the obstacles in place by the two-party system -- can they instead be successful in taking over the Republican Party? And again can they do so locally, statewide, nationally? It's probably already happened in Texas, FWIW. Rick Perry had one supporter resign as RPT chair (she immediately joined his campaign) only to be replaced by another. There remains an active effort -- if considerably muted in the wake of Dick Cheney's endorsement and her filing yesterday -- to push "moderate" Kay Bailey out of the race. Then again, it may have expired on 12/3.

Queen of the TeaBaggers Sarah Palin seems to be distancing herself from Governor 39% --or maybe it's him avoiding her -- after many winks and gropes between them earlier in the year.

In other TeaBag developments, Perry is so far ducking debates with Debra Medina, and nutbar Kevin Brady has two challengers from the Republican right flank.

More to post as developments warrant.

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