In the ongoing budget-cutting debate in Washington, some congressional Democrats have accused their Republican opponents of being held captive by the tea party movement. However, voters like the tea party more than Congress, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
The poll finds that 48 percent of Likely U.S. Voters say that when it comes to the major issues facing the country, their views are closer to the average tea party member as opposed to the average member of Congress.
Just 22 percent say their views are closest to those of the average congressman. Even more (30 percent) aren’t sure.
This shows little change from a survey in late March of last year.
Forty-nine percent of voters think the tea party movement is good for the country, consistent with findings since last May. Twenty-six percent disagree and say the grass-roots, small-government movement is bad for America. Sixteen percent say neither.
Forty-five percent say the average tea party member has a better understanding of the problems America faces today than the average member of Congress does. That figure is down seven points from a year ago. Still, today only 31 percent think the average member of Congress has a better understanding. Twenty-three percent are undecided.
One-third of voters continue to have ties to the tea party movement. That includes 22 percent who say they themselves are members and 12 percent more who say they have friends or family who belong. Those findings haven’t budged from the end of December. Fifty-two percent say they have no links to the tea party, but 14 percent are not sure.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 1-2, 2011, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-3 percentage.
Forty-four percent of Republicans say they are members of the tea party, with another 8 percent who have family members or friends who are in the group. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats have no ties to the group.
Seventy-eight percent of Republicans — and 54 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party — say the movement is good for the country. A plurality (48 percent) of Democrats sees it as bad for the country.
Sixty-nine percent of GOP voters and 62 percent of unaffiliateds say their views about the major issues facing the country are closest to those of the average tea party member. But among voters in President Obama’s party, only 37 percent say their views are closest to the average member of Congress, while 47 percent are undecided.
Most Democrats (54 percent) think the average member of Congress has a better understanding of the problems America faces today. Seventy-two percent (72 percent) of Republicans and 51 percent of unaffiliated voters have more confidence in the understanding of the average tea party member.
Tea party support was one factor leading to big congressional gains for Republicans in the November midterm elections. But by mid-December, only 34 percent of voters expected newly elected tea party legislators to remain true to their beliefs. But tea party members were far less skeptical than nonmembers.
Forty-one percent of all voters think the tea party will play a bigger role in the 2012 campaigns than it did in 2010, while 30 percent expect its role in 2012 to be about the same. Just 21 percent say the movement will play a smaller role next year.
Voters see “tea party” a bit less negatively as a political label these days, while “liberal” and “progressive” have lost ground even among Democrats. “Conservative” remains the most favored description.
Voters continue to view the Republican agenda in Congress as more mainstream than the agenda of the Democrats. But only one in four voters think the average member of either party shares the same ideology they do.
Capitol Hill is deadlocked over how deep to cut the current federal budget with Republicans hoping to cut nearly twice as much as Democrats. Yet while voters like the idea of big spending cuts, 53 percent don’t think even the GOP cuts will make much of a difference. But 57 percent think making deeper spending cuts in the federal budget for 2011 is more important than avoiding a government shutdown.
Most voters have consistently said for years that cutting taxes and reducing government spending are best for the economy.
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