As I noted on twitter yesterday (BTW, I recommend my twitter feed. I mention important matters there that I may not mention here.), I think this Rasmussen Poll is a blockbuster. Now there is no Tea Party . . . Party, yet, but in response to this question -- Suppose the Tea Party 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 response was as follows:
Tea Party 23%
Not Sure 22%
That’s right. The hypothetical Tea Party polls higher than the GOP.
I think this a blockbuster as it shows beyond reasonable dispute that the Tea Party movement is a power to be reckoned with. Those who dismiss them as extremists do so at their own political peril. And this will increase the confidence and assertiveness of Tea Party activists that much more.
Whether this is good news or bad news for the Republicans depends on whether two lessons are learned:
1. Republicans must enthusiastically adopt the Tea Party issues of lower taxes, lower spending, and less intrusive government. Those are also conservative Republican issues, of course. But far too often this decade, Republican actions have not matched Republican words, alienating many in the Tea Party movement.
2. The Tea Party activists need to note and note well that Democrats win if the Tea Party and Republicans split their votes. If Tea Party activists indiscriminately run their own candidates against Republicans under a separate party label, they will simply enable detested Socialist politicians and policies.
There are times when a third party can play a constructive role (as the New York State Conservative Party did in the recent Special Election), but for the Tea Party movement to have electoral success instead of handing elections to Democrats, they must work within and/or pressure the Republican Party. And many are already so doing.
Yes, this would be unappetizing for many Tea Partiers. But they should take a good look and see how ruinous would be the alternative of enabling the Democrats and their Socialism.