Ed touched on the poll this morning and made a good point about the sample possibly weighing Democrats too heavily. Two things, though. First, WaPo’s sample back in March was 35/26/36; the new sample is 34/25/38. Both might be skewed too far towards the Dems, but since they’re basically identical, I’m not sure why the party sample would explain this trend:
A more interesting sample is the ideological breakdown. In March, the split between liberals, moderates, and conservatives was 24/32/42 and today it’s 23/39/36. It stands to reason that, with fewer conservatives included, opinion of the tea party would turn downward, but I guess that goes to show just how clearly identified with conservatism the movement has become. If trading a few conservative respondents for a few moderates produces a downturn that sharp, it may be that appealing to the center is now out of reach for TPers.
Second, can a five- or six-point tilt towards Dems in the sample really explain this?
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll includes questions about the tea parties that have the nascent movement’s popularity slipping badly. Overall, since the last poll, the percentage of Americans who hold an unfavorable view of the movement has jumped from 39 percent to 50 percent. The leading edge of that has been a collapse in support from 18-29-year-olds. In March, they had a positive, 43-38 view of the tea parties. They’ve swung hard to a negative view, 27-60.
That comes from WaPo’s Dave Weigel, who I assume is looking at broader crosstabs distributed internally at the paper since I don’t see any age breakdown in the story itself or the posted crosstabs. Assuming he’s right, though, I can only assume this is a byproduct of the Rand Paul/Civil Rights Act story plus, maybe, the reports of black congressman being heckled with racial slurs outside the Capitol on the day ObamaCare passed. That’s plenty of fuel to drive the engine of a potent media attack well into the fall, which, like Ace, makes me nervous about the fate of Sharron Angle, Marco Rubio, and other tea-party darlings. Exit question: With Harry Reid’s gameplan against Angle (assuming she wins) to “paint her as a whackjob,” how much of a liability will the tea-party brand be in a general election four months from now? And a follow-up question: Since young adults are the least likely to vote in midterms, will their souring on TPers even matter at all?