Via Doug Mataconis, so says BuzzFeed after studying the transcripts. Dave Weigel had already noticed a conspicuous absence of TP mentions on Tuesday night, when Ted Cruz alluded to a “great awakening” and “national movement” that’s been tossing out incumbents since 2010 … without ever mentioning the name of that movement. Apparently, last night was a goose egg too.
Et tu, Rand Paul?
The “Tea Party” band — which energized and even seemed to overtake the Republican Party in 2010 — has been virtually invisible at this Republican National Convention.
Not a single one of the nearly 40 speakers during the convention’s key prime time hours has even mentioned the phrase, according to an examination of their transcripts — a sign both of Romney’s own distance from the movement and that polls have suggested that voters view the movement negatively.
Senator Rand Paul, another Tea Party favorite, didn’t mention it at all…
The Romney campaign approves all of the remarks ahead of time and oversees the choice of speakers. A Romney spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment about the absence of Tea Party mentions.
There are two things you notice whenever you stumble across a temperature check of the tea party’s favorables buried in the crosstabs of a national poll. One: They’re usually negative on balance, although not dramatically so. Even a pollster like Rasmussen who usually finds encouraging numbers for the GOP has the TP’s favorables at 35/42. Two: The numbers, while negative, have been remarkably consistent over time. Here’s what CBS has found over the past two years, via Polling Report:
People were still making up their minds throughout 2010, then by February 2011 the movement was at net -7 and now, a year and a half later, it’s … still at net -7. Not the sort of thing that’s going to sink Mitt Romney’s campaign if Rand Paul offers a sentence or two in praise of tea partiers everywhere. I assume it’s a simple matter of Team Mitt expecting a 50.1/49.9 election and being hypercautious about anything negative coming out of the convention that might be used against him. The vast majority of people who view the tea party unfavorably are already locked in for Obama, but maybe there’s that decisive .01 percent of undecideds who blame TPers for the debt-ceiling standoff last year and would recoil from a DNC attack ad showcasing tea-party praise from Republican speakers. (On the other hand, the DNC can still produce that ad. Just use tea-party hosannas offered by GOP leaders during interviews since 2010 in place of convention speeches.) From Romney’s perspective, there’s really nothing to be gained by mentioning the tea party: The base is already lining up for him in the name of defeating Obama, as those PPP Missouri numbers demonstrate. Tea partiers themselves seem ambivalent about whether the GOP should formally recognize them this week, with some demanding the right to speak and others, like the heads of the Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots, basically shrugging it all off. When you’re dealing with a pol as cautious as Mitt Romney, I guess, don’t expect him to take any unnecessary risk. Even if it’s a very marginal one.