Support for Tea Party Drops Even in Strongholds, Survey Finds

Support for the Tea Party — and with it, the Republican Party — has fallen sharply even in places considered Tea Party strongholds, according to a new survey.

In Congressional districts represented by Tea Party lawmakers, the number of people saying they disagree with the Tea Party has risen sharply over the year since the movement powered a Republican sweep in midterm elections, so that almost as many people disagree with the Tea Party as agree with it, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center.

Support for the Republican Party has fallen more sharply in those places than it has in the country as a whole. In the 60 districts represented in Congress by a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, Republicans are viewed about as negatively as Democrats.

The survey suggests that the Tea Party may be dragging down the Republican Party heading into a presidential election year, even as it ushered in a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives just a year ago.

Other polls have shown a decline in support for the Tea Party and its positions, particularly because its hard line during the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction made the Tea Party less an abstraction. In earlier polls, most Americans did not know enough about the Tea Party to offer an opinion.

But the Pew survey shows that Tea Party support has declined even in places where it had been particularly robust.

“We know that the image of the G.O.P. has slipped, but to see it slip so dramatically in Tea Party districts is pretty surprising,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew center. “You think of those as bedrock Republican districts. They are the base.”

The number of people who disagree with the Tea Party had risen among the general public and in the 60 districts represented by members of the Tea Party caucus, according to one of the polls in the Pew analysis, taken this month. Among the general public, 27 percent said they disagreed with the Tea Party and 20 percent said they agreed, a reversal from a year ago, when 27 percent agreed and 22 percent disagreed with the Tea Party.

In Tea Party districts, 23 percent of people now disagree with the Tea Party, while 25 percent agree. A year ago, 33 percent of people in those districts agreed with the Tea Party, and 18 percent disagreed.

Opinions of the Republican Party had also dropped off particularly sharply in those Tea Party districts. In a Pew poll in October, 48 percent of people in those places said they had a negative view of the Republican Party, while 41 percent said they have a favorable view. The favorable rating had dropped 14 points since March.

That drop was sharper than it was among the general public, where the percentage of people with a favorable opinion of the Republican Party had dropped to 36 percent, from 42 percent in March.

Opinions about the Democratic Party shifted less, nationwide and in Tea Party districts. Among the general public, favorable ratings for the Democratic Party dropped to 46 in October from 50 percent in August. In Tea Party districts, unfavorable ratings for the Democrats dropped, to 50 percent in October from 57 percent in August. Favorable ratings stayed about the same — at 39 percent in October, and 37 percent in August.

How much this affects Republican chances in the presidential contest next year, Mr. Kohut said, probably depends on which candidate wins the nomination.

“If the candidate is of a more conservative bent, he or she will have to deal with this complaint about the Tea Party among the general public, of being too extreme and not willing to compromise,” he said.

“The focus has been very much on the candidate and not on the party, but going into this election the party has problems,” he said. “Which isn’t to say that people are wildly enthusiastic about the Democratic Party, but it hasn’t lost the kind of favor the G.O.P. has.”

Updated: The full report of this article is available here.