Tea party activists may not be as helpful to Republican candidates in November Congressional elections as the party hopes.
That’s the upshot of a new poll from Quinnipiac University.
Respondents said that without a tea party candidate on the ballot, they would vote 44 to 39 percent in favor of Republicans over Democrats.
But if there’s a tea party candidate on the ballot, the numbers go like this: 36 percent for Democrats, 25 percent for Republicans and 15 percent for tea party candidates.
“The tea party could be a Republican dream – or a GOP nightmare,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said in a statement.
“Members could be a boon to the GOP if they are energized to support Republican candidates. But if the Tea Party were to run its own candidates for office, any votes its candidate received would to a very great extent be coming from the GOP column.”
Most tea party members consider themselves Republicans, Brown says.
“They are less educated, but more interested in politics than the average Joe and Jane six-pack and are not in a traditional sense swing voters.”
The poll showed that 74 percent of tea party participants are Republicans or independent voters who leaning Republican, 16 percent are Democrats or independent voters who lean Democratic, and 5 percent are solidly independent.
Tea partiers’ power appears to be growing daily. Passage of the healthcare reform bill has energized activists.
"I am deluged with phone calls this morning (Monday) from people wanting to join the Tea Party," Gina Loudon, a founder of the St. Louis Tea Party, told FoxNews.com.
"I literally cannot even return the phone calls quickly enough. ... This has absolutely awoken a giant."
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