Government Shutdown Would Be No Tea Party For the GOP

According to a recent Gallup Poll, a record low 22% of Americans consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party. Today fewer Americans support the Tea Party than they did at the height of the movement in 2010 or the beginning of last year. Support is down from 32% in November 2010 just after the Republican Party gained their House majority. Today, 27% of Americans oppose the Tea Party, while more than half of Americans (51%) have no opinion. Not only does this poll show that Americans are moving away from the Tea Party's extreme views, but that Republican voters and lawmakers are as well. 

The recent Gallup poll shows that Republicans' support for the Tea Party is diminishing. In November 2010, 65% of Republicans supported the Tea Party, while now only 38% do. Republicans have also become increasingly more neutral towards the Tea Party, increasing from 30% to 55% with no opinion. Evidence that the Republican Party is less supportive of the Tea Party can be seen in the current debate over the spending bill that may or may not defund Obama's health care law.

Tea Party darling Senator Ted Cruz's quasi-filibuster of the most recent spending bill after the Republican-controlled House already approved defunding Obamacare is a clear example of the growing division between the Tea Party and the GOP. The filibuster is supported by fellow Tea Party members, but not by other Republicans. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has stated that Cruz's filibuster strategy is leading the party into a "box canyon that will fail and weaken [the GOP's] position."

A recent Pew survey also shows that the majority of Republican voters that do not identify with the Tea Party would rather see lawmakers compromise on a flawed budget rather than shut down the government. However, 71% of Tea Party supporters believe lawmakers should stand by their principles even if that means a government shutdown.

The Republican Party does not want to shutdown the government. Rather, they just want to stop the Affordable Care Act from passing into law. And they don't want to be blamed for the unevitable shutdown that will ensure if the bill does not return to the House by the end of the week. Republicans are concerned that the Democratic Senate will choose to fund the health care law before sending it back to the House. According to the recent Pew survey, slightly more Americans (39%) would blame Republicans for a shutdown compared to the Obama administration (36%). It seems clear that both Republican lawmakers and voters believe that the Tea Party's steadfast views are currently harming, rather than helping the GOP achieve its goals.

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Amy Imbergamo

Amy is a recent graduate of Trinity College (Hartford, CT) with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy & Law, and Anthropology. She is very interested in international politics, policy, and cultural issues. She is aspiring to gain employment in law, government, or policy. Her favorite pastimes are traveling and playing ice hockey. She studied abroad in Vienna, Austria and most recently traveled to Australia after completing a senior honors thesis called "The Achievement of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement in Australia: Lessons for Federal Gun Control Reform in the United States."

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