Support for tea party? Its goals, yes. The movement, not as much.
A new Monitor/TIPP poll finds strong support for some core tea party objectives, such as 'cutting the deficit by cutting spending.' But a majority viewed the tea party itself negatively.
Support for tea party goals extends far beyond the ranks of those who formally align themselves with the grass-roots movement.Skip to next paragraph
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That's the message of a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll taken this month as Americans were casting ballots in a shakeup election.
In the survey of American adults, a majority says Congress should give a high priority to "cutting the deficit by cutting spending," a core objective of the tea party movement. By contrast, support for government policies designed to stimulate the economy ranks near the bottom of public prioritites, alongside the idea of raising taxes to help close the federal deficit.
Most Americans support extending the Bush tax cuts temporarily (even for high-income taxpayers), the poll found, although extending the cuts permanently lacked majority support.
"Many people don't explicitly identify with the tea party, but they sympathize with the point of view," says pollster Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the monthly poll. When it comes to growing government debt, "people are very sensitive."
Support for cuts
Even among Democrats, more Americans favor federal spending cuts (34 percent) than federal stimulus spending (21 percent), which was a centerpiece of President Obama's economic policy in 2009.
This doesn't mean that most Americans have embraced a minimalist approach to government, or that tea party emblem Rand Paul (coming to Washington to represent Kentucky in the Senate) would have an easy time wresting the presidency from Mr. Obama in a national campaign.
In fact, the Monitor/TIPP poll finds, Americans generally do not have a favorable view of the tea party. While 36 percent of those polled gave the tea party a favorable rating (from 6 to 10, with 10 being "very favorable"), 54 percent gave unfavorable ratings of 1 to 5. About 10 percent were unsure.