Wednesday, August 10, 2011
More voters still think the average Tea Party member has a better handle on America’s problems than the average member of Congress does, but there’s a sharp difference of opinion between Democrats and Republicans.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of all Likely U.S. Voters believe the average member of the Tea Party has a better understanding of the problems America faces today, while 34% think the average member of Congress is more clued in. Twenty-four percent (24%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Still, that marks a 10-point drop in confidence in the Tea Party from March of last year when 52% felt the average member of the grass roots smaller government group had a better understanding of America’s problems. But the new findings aren’t a big boost of confidence in Congress since there’s been only a slight increase from the 30% in March 2010 who thought the average congressman had a better feel for the nation’s problems.
Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats, however, have more confidence in the average member of Congress. But 68% of Republicans - and a plurality (46%) of voters not affiliated with either major party – think the average Tea Party member has a better understanding of today’s problems.
Just 36% of all voters now have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party which has come under fire from President Obama and congressional Democrats for pressuring Republicans into rejecting any tax increases as part of the recent deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. Forty-four percent (44%) view the Tea Party unfavorably, while 20% are not sure what they think of the group.
But again there’s a noticeable partisan divide. While 63% of GOP voters hold a favorable opinion of the Tea Party, 75% of Democrats regard the group unfavorably. Unaffiliated voters share that unfavorable opinion by a slim 42% to 38% margin.
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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 5-6, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
While several prominent Democrats and their media friends have charged the Tea Party with being economic terrorists during the congressional budget debates, just 29% of voters nationwide agree.
Twenty-one percent (21%) of voters now consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. Seventy percent (70%) do not, but another eight percent (8%) are not sure.
Among non-members, just 17% have a favorable opinion of the group, while only 25% think the average Tea Party member has a better understanding of the nation’s problems.
Forty-one percent(41%) of Republicans say they are members of the Tea Party, compared to 19% of unaffiliated voters and just four percent (4%) of Democrats.
Men are more likely than women to consider themselves Tea Party members. Voters over 40 are more likely to be members than those who are younger. Twenty-five percent (25%) of whites are members of the group versus only two percent (2%) of blacks.
Forty-seven percent (47%) of those in the Mainstream view the group favorably as opposed to only four percent (4%) of the Political Class. But then 80% of the Political Class believes the average member of Congress has a better understanding of America’s problems. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Mainstream voters express more confidence in the understanding of the average Tea Party member.
Voter approval of the job Congress is doing has fallen to a new low. Just six percent (6%) of voters now rate Congress' performance as good or excellent.
Voters feel more strongly than ever that decreasing government spending is good for the economy and think tax increases of any kind are a bad economic move. Sixty-seven percent (67%) think that thoughtful spending cuts should be considered in every program of the federal government as the nation searches for solutions to the budget crisis.
The debt ceiling debate, however, has highlighted the political difficulty of coming to grips with the federal government’s massive debt. Voters now are almost evenly divided over whether they prefer a congressman who would reduce that debt with spending cuts only or opt for a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.
Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.