A new Rasmussen poll
suggests that the Tea Party movement is far and away more popular than the Republican Party it seeks to influence -- so much so that if it were a full-fledged political party, it would overtake the GOP on the generic Congressional ballot.
The question was phrased as follows: "Okay, suppose the Tea Party Movement organized itself as a political party. When thinking about the next election for Congress, would you vote for the Republican candidate from your district, the Democratic candidate from your district, or the Tea Party candidate from your district?"
The results: Democratic 36%, Tea Party 23%, Republican 18%.
The pollster's analysis makes clear that for multiple reasons an actual political party would be unlikely to stay viable -- but the potential exists for the Tea Party crowd to gain traction within the existing institutions, such as taking over the GOP. "In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates," the analysis says. "The rules of the election process -- written by Republicans and Democrats -- provide substantial advantages for the two established major parties. The more conventional route in the United States is for a potential third-party force to overtake one of the existing parties."