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Senior Citizens Most Likely to Favor Slumping Tea Party in New Pew Study

Despite giant swing away from favorable view of political rebels, seniors emerge from government shutdown as still its biggest supporters

By Tucker Sutherland, editor,

Oct. 29, 2013 - The popularity of the Tea Party has plummeted following the government shutdown, according to an extensive research report by the Pew Research Center. This study also finds senior citizens are one of the two age groups leading the swing away from a favorable opinion of the political group, yet, surprisingly, still its biggest supporter.

“The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively,” according to the report, Tea Party’s Image Turns More Negative.

“Overall, nearly half of the public (49%) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30% have a favorable opinion.”

“The balance of opinion toward the Tea Party has turned more negative since June, when 37% viewed it favorably and 45% had an unfavorable opinion. And the Tea Party’s image is much more negative today than it was three years ago, shortly after it emerged as a conservative protest movement against Barack Obama’s policies on health care and the economy,” says the Pew analysis.


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In June, senior citizens - age 65 and older - were the age group with the most favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, with 42% having a favorable view and 43% unfavorable. This is the highest favorable rating and the lowest negative rating among the four age groups measured by Pew (see chart).

This month - October - the favorable rating by seniors had dropped to only 33% and the unfavorable had jumped to 49%. This represented a 9% negative swing in the favorable rating, which was second only to the youngest adults - 18-29 - that had a negative swing of 12%.

Despite the huge swing among seniors in the favorable rating, they are still ranked as the age group with the most favorable view of the Tea Party. At only 33% favorable, they are one percentage point more favorable than the 50-64 year olds.

The Pew analysis says:

“In February 2010, when the Tea Party was less well known, the balance of opinion toward the movement was positive (33% favorable vs. 25% unfavorable). Unfavorable opinion spiked to 43% in 2011 after Republicans won a House majority and Tea Party members played a leading role in that summer’s debt ceiling debate.

“The Tea Party’s favorability rating has fallen across most groups since June, but the decline has been particularly dramatic among moderate and liberal Republicans. In the current survey, just 27% of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable impression of the Tea Party, down from 46% in June.”

The national survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted Oct. 9-13 among 1,504 adults. It finds “wide divisions between Tea Party Republicans and non-Tea Party Republicans in how they view major issues, some leading GOP figures and even the relationship between the Republican Party and the Tea Party itself.”

Read the complete analysis at Pew Research Center.


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