Sunday, April 08, 2012

Is The Tea Party A Liability for the GOP?

While the Tea Party extremists - some 85% of whom identify as conservative Christians - remain stalwarts of the GOP base, the image of these (in my view delusional) individuals appears to be plummeting with the majority of voters. Moreover, some now see the Tea Party and the extreme anti-government and anti-social network policies espoused by the Tea Party may well be the straw that breaks the GOP's back in the 2012 general election contest. A column in the Washington Post looks at how the Tea Party may help insure that Barack Obama remains in the White House. Here are some highlights:

The tea party may have won Republicans the House of Representatives in 2010. In 2012, it’s looking like it could help Democrats retain the White House. The tea party movement, now nearly three years old, has fallen out of favor with Americans. And Democrats are prepared to use it against Republicans in the 2012 election.

A recent Fox News poll showed just 30 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the tea party, compared to 51 percent who viewed it unfavorably. . . . That suggests opposition to the tea party is more strident than the tea party itself, which means the movement may be doing the GOP more harm than good.

In addition, the fervor and enthusiasm spurred by the tea party in 2010 appears to have dissipated, with no major tea party rallies taking place this year and fewer Republican candidates latching on to the label. On the presidential campaign trail, the tea party is rarely mentioned. In contrast, Democrats are actually starting to wield the tea party label as a tool in their campaigns.

Democrats say the issue works for them as they continue to define a Republican Party whose brand is already struggling. “It’s no longer viewed as a populist, grassroots organization, but a dangerous group with extremist views that don’t reflect the mainstream values of America’s middle class,” said Democratic media strategist John Lapp. “The Republican establishment allowed the inmates to run the asylum in 2010. And now they’re paying the price electorally.”

The Washington Post/ABC poll showed just 40 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the GOP, a new low. Some Republicans, who were granted anonymity to speak privately about the party’s strategy, acknowledged that some Republicans who latched on to the tea party in 2010 will have to take care not to identify too closely with it in 2012.

Meanwhile, as the Post story notes, the anti-women meme continues to do significant damage:

Murkowski accuses fellow GOPers of ‘attack on women’: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) just handed Democrats a gift.

In comments recorded by a local newspaper, Murkowski criticizes her fellow Republicans on the issue of women’s rights, saying they weren’t quick enough to denounce Rush Limbaugh for his “slut” comments and that they’ve handled the issue of contraception poorly.

“To have those kind of slurs against a woman ... you had candidates who want to be our president not say, ‘That’s wrong. That’s offensive,’” said Murkowski, who favors abortion rights. “They did not condemn the rhetoric.”

Murkowski added, of the GOP’s response to the contraception controversy: “It makes no sense to make this attack on women. If you don’t feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters.” Ouch. These are the kind of comments that will make this issue even tougher for the GOP to shake.

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