Tea Party Support Declines Somewhat

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – March 8, 2011 – A new Harris Poll finds that support for the Tea Party movement has declined somewhat. From May through October last year the Harris Poll found that 45% or 44% of all adults supported the Tea Party movement. That slipped to 39% in January and to 37% in February. In May last year fully 21% of adults said that they supported the movement strongly. These strong Tea Party supporters declined to 17% late last year and dropped to 14% in February.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,171 adults surveyed online between February 14 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    The poll also provides a demographic profile of Tea Party supporters, which shows that:

    • There are more strong Tea Party supporters in the East (20%) than in the other regions, but if all Tea Party supporters are counted they are more common in the South (43%) than in the other regions and least likely to be in the West (32%);
    • A much higher proportion (49%) of people over 65 than of Baby Boomers (36%) and younger generations (37% of Gen X, aged 35-46 and 34% of Echo Boomers, aged 18-34) are Tea Party supporters;
    • Men are much more likely than women (47% vs. 29%) to be Tea Party supporters and to be strong Tea Party supporters (21% vs. 8%);
    • Only a very few African Americans (8%) are Tea Party supporters compared to 42% of whites and 37% of Hispanics;
    • Fully 70% of Republicans are Tea Party supporters and 26% of them are strong supporters. More surprisingly perhaps Tea Party supporters include 17% of Democrats and 38% of Independents;
    • There is a strong correlation between support for the Tea Party and (not having) education. Supporters include 43% of those who never went to college, 36% of people with some college education but no degree, 33% of college graduates and 26% of those with a post graduate degree;
    • Tea Party support is lowest (29%) among those with household incomes of less than $35,000 but is not correlated with income among the rest of the population. However the largest proportion (24%) who are strong supporters are found among those with household incomes of between $50,000 an $75,000; and
    • Most Conservatives (69%) are Tea Party supporters and almost a third of them (31%) are strong supporters. However substantial minorities of moderates (27%) and liberals (20%) are also supporters.

    So What?

    While this poll shows that support for the Tea Party movement has been declining this year, the decline is modest; more than one third of adults still support it. Furthermore this downward trend may not continue. Something may happen to breathe new life into the movement. Only time will tell if this is the beginning of a long term decline or whether the Tea Party will still be a potent force in the run up to the 2012 elections and whether it will strengthen, or divide the Republican party.

    TABLE 1

    SUPPORT OR OPPOSE THE TEA PARTY – TREND

    Do you support or oppose the Tea Party Movement?

    Base: All adults

     

    2010

    2011

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Jan

    Feb

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Support (NET)

    45

    44

    44

    45

    44

    39

    37

    Strongly support

    21

    18

    18

    17

    17

    16

    14

    Somewhat support

    24

    26

    27

    27

    27

    23

    23

    Oppose (NET)

    35

    36

    34

    35

    37

    35

    38

    Somewhat oppose

    13

    13

    13

    16

    14

    11

    13

    Strongly oppose

    22

    23

    21

    19

    23

    24

    25

    Not at all sure

    20

    20

    22

    20

    18

    26

    24

    Note: Until January 2011 this question was only asked among those adults who said they were familiar with the Tea Party Movement. Beginning in January 2011 it was asked of all adults; Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


    TABLE 2

    SUPPORT THE TEA PARTY – DEMOGRAPHICS

    Do you support or oppose the Tea Party Movement?

    Summary of Support

    Base: All adults

     

    Strongly support

    Somewhat support

    Support (NET)

    %

    %

    %

    All adults

    14

    23

    37

    Region

    East

    20

    17

    37

    Midwest

    11

    24

    34

    South

    15

    29

    43

    West

    12

    20

    32

    Generation

    Echo Boomers (18-34)

    14

    20

    34

    Gen X (35-46)

    12

    25

    37

    Baby Boomers (47-65)

    12

    24

    36

    Matures (66+)

    21

    28

    49

    Gender

    Male

    21

    25

    47

    Female

    8

    21

    29

    Race/Ethnicity

    White

    16

    27

    42

    African American

    5

    3

    8

    Hispanic

    14

    23

    37

    Political Party ID

    Republican

    26

    43

    70

    Democrat

    9

    8

    17

    Independent

    13

    25

    38

    Education

    H.S. or less

    18

    25

    43

    Some college

    14

    22

    36

    College grad

    10

    24

    33

    Post grad

    8

    18

    26

    Income

    Less than $35K

    9

    21

    29

    $35K-$49.9K

    14

    26

    40

    $50K-$74.9K

    24

    20

    44

    $75K-$99.9K

    14

    26

    40

    $100K +

    14

    26

    40

    Political Philosophy

    Conservative

    31

    38

    69

    Moderate

    5

    22

    27

    Liberal

    14

    7

    20

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J39370

    Q1220

    The Harris Poll ® #33, March 8, 2011

    By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

    About Harris Interactive

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