Since the Dems got shellacked in the 2010 election, they have tried to paint Tea Party citizens as "extreme" - as if demanding responsible spending of Washington were somehow excessive.
Sen. Harry Reid predicted that grass-roots financial conservatism would quickly disappear when members became disinterested. Recent reports from the dinosaur media have suggested that the Tea Party influence is on the wane. Really?
Below, Boston Tea Partiers rally in 2010.
In fact even after all the media trash-talk, a substantial portion of the voting public still finds the arguments of the Tea Party persuasive, according to the Rasmussen pollsters.
48% Say Their Views Closer to Tea Party Than Congress, Rasmussen Reports, April 5, 2011
In the ongoing budget-cutting debate in Washington, some congressional Democrats have accused their Republican opponents of being held captive by the Tea Party movement, but voters like the Tea Party more than Congress.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters say when it comes to the major issues facing the country, their views are closer to the average Tea Party member as opposed to the average member of Congress.Â Just 22% say their views are closest to those of the average congressman. Even more (30%) aren't sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
This shows little change from a survey in late March of last year.
Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters think the Tea Party movement is good for the country, consistent with findings since May 2010. Twenty-six percent (26%) disagree and say the grassroots, small government movement is bad for America. Sixteen percent (16%) say neither.
Forty-five percent (45%) say the average Tea Party member has a better understanding of the problems America faces today than the average member of Congress does. That figure is down seven points from a year ago. Still, today only 31% think the average member of Congress has a better understanding. Twenty-three percent (23%) are undecided.
One-third of voters continue to have ties to the Tea Party movement. That includes 22% who say they themselves are members and 12% more who say they have friends or family who belong. Those findings haven't budged from the end of December. Fifty-two percent (52%) say they have no links to the Tea Party, but 14% are not sure. [. . .]
Forty-four percent (44%) of Republicans say they are members of the Tea Party, with another eight percent (8%) who have family members or friends who are in the group. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Democrats have no ties to the group. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans - and 54% of voters not affiliated with either major political party - say the movement is good for the country. A plurality (48%) of Democrats sees it as bad for the country.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of GOP voters and 62% of unaffiliateds say their views about the major issues facing the country are closest to those of the average Tea Party member. But among voters in President Obama's party, only 37% say their views are closest to the average member of Congress, while 47% are undecided.
Most Democrats (54%) think the average member of Congress has a better understanding of the problems America faces today. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Republicans and 51% of unaffiliated voters have more confidence in the understanding of the average Tea Party member.
There's a similarly sharp divide between Mainstream and Political Class voters. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of those in the Mainstream think the Tea Party is good for America, but 69% of the Political Class say it's a bad thing. There are comparable differences of opinion when it comes to whose views are closest to their own and who has a better understanding of today's problems.
But then 38% of Mainstream voters are either Tea Party members or have a family member or friend who belongs to the movement. Ninety-four percent (94%) of those in the Political Class have no ties to the Tea Party.
Tea Party support was one factor leading to big congressional gains for Republicans in the November mid-term elections. But by mid-December, only 34% of voters expected newly elected Tea Party legislators to remain true to their beliefs. But Tea Party members were far less skeptical than non-members.
Forty-one percent (41%) of all voters think the Tea Party will play a bigger role in the 2012 campaigns than it did in 2010, while 30% expect its role in 2012 to be about the same. Just 21% say the movement will play a smaller role next year.
Voters see "Tea Party" a bit less negatively as a political label these days, while "liberal" and "progressive" have lost ground even among Democrats. "Conservative" remains the most favored description.
Voters continue to view the Republican agenda in Congress as more mainstream than the agenda of the Democrats. But only one-in-four voters think the average member of either party shares the same ideology they do.
Capitol Hill is deadlocked over how deep to cut the current federal budget with Republicans hoping to cut nearly twice as much as Democrats. Yet while voters like the idea of big spending cuts, 53% don't think even the GOP cuts will make much of a difference. ButÂ 57% think making deeper spending cuts in the federal budget for 2011 isÂ more important than avoiding a government shutdown.
Most voters have consistently said for years that cutting taxes and reducing government spending are best for the economy.