Rasmussen: Tea Party Shows Weakness of GOP Establishment

Sunday, 19 Sep 2010 04:05 PM

By Dan Weil

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The strength of the tea party movement illustrates the weakness of the Republican establishment, says pollster Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports.

He recently wrote a book with fellow pollster Doug Schoen titled “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System.”

Rasmussen told Newsmax.TV: “There’s a schism between the GOP establishment and GOP voters, just like throughout the country the big gap is between the political elite and mainstream voters.”

Story continues below video.

A hefty 75 percent of Republicans say their leaders are out of touch with the party base, he notes. “The establishment is just waking up to the fact that they’re not in charge, and they’re not that well liked by some in their party.”

Editor's Note: Get your copy of “Mad as Hell” at a great price from Amazon — Go Here Now.

In one sense, the tea party is nothing new, Rasmussen says. “This populist movement that has given rise to the tea party is something that has happened throughout American history,” he said.

“It always follows a similar pattern. There are a couple decades of things boiling beneath the surface, and then it comes to the surface in a way that catches everyone off guard.”

And that’s what’ happening now, Rasmussen says. “Status quo elites don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.”

The Bush and Obama administrations’ bank bailouts triggered the tea party’s rise, he says.

“Voters are really upset about that,” Rasmussen explained. “Establishment figures said wait a minute, the bailouts saved America. Most Americans have the opposite belief.”

Tea partyers’ anger focuses on two issues, he says. “They think federal spending, deficits and taxes are too high, and they think no one in Washington is listening to them, and that latter point is really, really important.”

Elites have scoffed at the tea party movement from the get go, he says. “First they said it was insignificant, then they said it was Astroturf, then they said it was racist, and many now say it won’t have much impact.”

That judgment is simply wrong Rasmussen says.

“Less than two years after the first party event, there will be several U.S. senators elected as tea party candidates this fall, and there are as many people who consider themselves part of the tea party as consider themselves liberal.”

The tea party isn’t all about Sarah Palin either, he says

“She is viewed by some as the leader of tea party movement. That’s not really accurate. There is no leader,” Rasmussen said.

“She is both a product of the movement -- someone who embodies some of its values -- and she’s a powerful spokesperson for the movement. But the tea parties themselves are now a grass roots movement with no clear leadership. Sarah Palin sometimes channels the voice of the tea party.”

It’s also wrong to look at the tea party as a function of the Republican Party, he says. “It’s bigger than that. Republicans feel better about conservatives than they do about people in the tea party.”

And don’t expect an independent presidential candidate along the lines of Ross Perot to take over the tea party, Rasmussen says. “If somebody hijacks it for a presidential bid, that would be the end of the tea party movement as we know it,” he said. “It’s not about an individual.

But the tea party will absolutely play a role in choosing the Republican nominee. “If Sarah Palin chooses not to run, the nominee will likely be a friend of Sarah and a friend of the tea party under almost any circumstances,” Rasmussen said.

Establishment Democrats better take heed too, he says. “There’s also a populist movement on the political left who don’t believe Washington is listening to them.”

Editor's Note: Get your copy of “Mad as Hell” at a great price from Amazon — Go Here Now.

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