Has the GOP Collapse Begun? Hypothetical "Tea Party" Outpolls Republicans
Something is afoot among the conservative base -- voting Republican doesn't seem to cut it anymore, and incumbents are getting nervous.
Establishment Republicans, take notice. The Tea Party is about to steal your thunder.
According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports, likely voters in the 2010 congressional elections would rather cast a ballot for a candidate bearing the Tea Party brand than one on the Republican line.
In a national survey of likely voters, Rasmussen asked respondents to choose their favored political party for the congressional contests in what pollsters call a generic ballot. In a three-way contest, Democrats fared best, with 36 percent, while a hypothetical Tea Party came in second at 23 percent, and Republicans pulled up the rear with 18 percent. But there is one wrinkle in the Tea Party triumph scenario: There is no political party called the Tea Party, which might lead one to question whether Rasmussen is stirring the simmering pot of Republican Party politics.
Although the poll results look awful for Republicans, the absence of an actual established political party called the Tea Party makes the GOP the likely host party for Tea Party-endorsed candidates. While this could lead to some losses in 2010, the net effect will likely be to move the establishment GOP further to the right-wing Tea Party agenda of small government, lower taxes, union busting and virtually no social safety net.
Because there's no political party yet formed under the Tea Party banner, Tea Party movement groups are supporting primary challenges to establishment Republican candidates, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who faces challenger Marco Rubio in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat. Tea Party activists could also, as they did with the Conservative Party in New York State during a special election last month in the state's 23rd congressional district, work with an established third party in areas where the Republican Party machinery is locked up.