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Tea Party: Polls Show Importance To GOP Base

WASHINGTON — As negotiations continue over raising the debt limit, Republican leaders are at odds with their own base, amid reports that their electoral coalition is breaking down. Public polling data illustrating the growing importance of the Tea Party vividly depicts the intra-party split and demonstrates the pressure Republican leaders now face.

Many national media polls now track the number of Americans who consider themselves Tea Party “supporters.” As shown below, most now find between 25 and 30 percent of respondents fall into that category, with no consistent trend over the last year.

Republican pollster Bill McInturff has taken this measurement a step further in the polls he conducts with Democrat Peter Hart for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. Since October of last year, their surveys have asked those who identify or lean Republican and consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party to choose the term that describes them better, between “supporter of the Tea Party Movement” and “Republican.”

According to a presentation McInturff posted on his company website, in the NBC/Wall Street Journal surveys conducted in October 2010, this question split Republican voters into roughly thirds.

  • 10 percent (of all voters) think of themselves as Tea Party supporters first, Republicans second
  • 10 percent who think of themselves as Republicans first, Tea Party supporters second
  • 12 percent who are Republicans but do not think of themselves as Tea Party supporters

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