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Rasmussen poll: Tea Party members not "economic terrorists", but haven't made things better

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As those on the Left have recently attempted to craft yet another meme to diminish the relevance of the Tea Party movement, a Rasmussen Poll showed that a majority of voters don't subscribe to the notion that the movement is comprised of economic terrorists.

Rasmussen noted that 55% of likely voters say that members of the Tea Party aren't economic terrorists. Only 29% of likely voters believe that Tea Party members have acted like terrorists during the recent budget debates of the past few weeks. Another 16% of likely voters were undecided on the matter.

Rasmussen Reports asked the following in a national survey of 1,000 voters:

     "Some people have accused the Tea Party of acting like economic terrorists during the budget debates. Are members of the Tea Party economic terrorists?"

53% of Democrats believe that Tea Party members are terrorists, while 57% of voters unaffiliated with either of the two major parties and 74% percent of Republicans do not consider Tea Party members to be terrorists.

As for whether the Tea Party movement has made things better or worse for the country, 43% of Americans believe that they have made things worse. Only 32% of Americans believe that the Tea Party has made things better, and 11% are undecided. 14% of voters believe that the Tea Party has had no impact. 

Along partisan lines, there's really no surprise that a majority of Democrats, at 73%, believe that the Tea Party has made things worse and that a majority of Republicans, at 53%, believe that they've made things better. Given that the Tea Party tends to lean more Republican than Democrat, such a partisan divide is to be expected. Unaffiliated voters are split about the Tea Party's making things better, 37%-37%.

While quite a few Americans may believe that the Tea Party has made things worse for the country, that sentiment still doesn't represent majority opinion. Furthermore, while opinions vary on the Tea Party, this in no way has a negative effect on Americans' desire for a third party to challenge the traditional two-party system. In May, Gallup showed that support for a third party dipped but still remained the majority view among Americans as a whole. 

Related to this point, Democrats have been on the offensive lately by labeling the Tea Party as "terrorists," both from within the administration and in the media. Most recently, some on the Left have demonized Tea Party subscribers by attributing to this largely independent-minded, fiscally conservative movement the recent downgrading of the nation's credit rating.  Yet, all this partisan rhetoric may represent a certain desperation in the political establishment, which may fear the potential challenge of a third party. Even former presidential candidate and current Senator John McCain labeled the Tea Party as "hobbits".  Such attacks against the Tea Party demonstrate the potential force of a third party declaring its independence from business as usual.

Rasmussen's poll was conducted on August 5-6, 2011. It has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 points with a 95% level of confidence.

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