Rasmussen released a new poll today that illustrates the enormous political support behind the Tea Party movement, suggesting that Tea Partiers are significantly more popular than the Republican Party.
The results are staggering: in a generic three-party runoff, a hypothetical ‘Tea Party party’ would outpoll the Republican Party by five points.
Results: Democrats: 36%; Tea Party: 23%; Republicans: 18%
Just as fascinating: even among moderates, the Tea Party party seems to be more popular than the GOP.
These results are in alignment with the other features of the right that Rasmussen has been tracking: weak support for the GOP among self-identified conservatives, and disdain for the Republican establishment among self-identified GOP voters.
On the other hand, Republican voters seem to be open to giving Tea Partiers a chance – the poll shows widespread favorability for the Tea Party movement – 70% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the movement, while only 7% have an unfavorable view.
Indeed, a tide may be cresting in American politics: a substantial minority (41%) told pollsters that the Republicans and Democrats are so much alike that a new party is required to represent American voters.
However, Rasmussen notes that a Tea Party party would likely be unsuccessful:
In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates. The rules of the election process—written by Republicans and Democrats–provide substantial advantages for the two established major parties.
This is a wakeup call for GOP leaders: they will need to find a way to capture the energy of the Tea Party movement, or else be deluged by it.
UPDATE: The hypothetical matchup that Rasmussen envisions is not entirely hypothetical – Politico noted in November that a Florida conservative filed the paperwork to register a Tea Party party in the state. The new Florida Tea Party party’s website has since become live – you can find it here.
FLASHBACK: FrumForum at the Bachmann Tea Party on Capitol Hill — Speaking to protesters, they told us: “We’re Not Republicans“