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Posted at 12:50 PM ET, 03/30/2011

Reid: ‘The country doesn’t care much about the tea party’


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) holds a news conference after the Senate voted for a budget continuing resolution at the U.S. Captiol March 2. (Chip Somodevilla - GETTY IMAGES)
Updated 12:50 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday pointed to the results of a new poll in arguing that House Republican leaders “can’t let the tea party call the shots” in ongoing negotiations over funding the federal government.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Reid cited a CNN poll released Wednesday morning showing that the tea party movement is now viewed as unfavorably as the Democratic and Republican parties are.

The poll showed that 32 percent of respondents view the tea party movement favorably, while 47 percent view it unfavorably; 21 percent either had never heard of the tea party or had no opinion.

“The people who care about the tea party are a very small number who care about them positively,” Reid said. “Those who care about them negatively is very high; it’s 50 percent.”

What Reid didn’t mention in his remarks on the Senate floor is that the Democratic and Republican parties fare just as poorly as the tea party movement does in the public eye.

In Wednesday’s CNN poll, 44 percent of respondents viewed the Republican Party favorably and 48 percent viewed it unfavorably; the Democratic Party was viewed favorably by 46 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 48 percent.

Those numbers are less useful to Reid’s argument that Republicans who are “getting a lot of pressure from the tea party folks” ought to ditch them in the continuing budget negotiations.

The increase in the tea party movement’s unfavorability ratings in the CNN poll appears to stem from the fact that the movement is better known than it was last year. A CNN poll conducted in January 2010 showed that 33 percent of respondents viewed the tea party favorably, 26 percent viewed it unfavorably and the highest percentage of respondents – 40 percent – either had never heard of it or had no opinion.

Still, the fact remains that House Republicans do face pressure from their right flank in the ongoing government funding talks. A Capitol Hill rally sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots slated for Thursday.

As they try to negotiate a budget deal, Senate Democrats are arguing that Republicans, not Democrats, are the ones divided on funding the federal government.

“There is a clear divide between the House Republicans who are looking to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal, and those planning to join the tea party rally against a compromise that will ensure our long-term economic security,” Sen. Mark Begich (R-Alaska) said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s hard to imagine Speaker [John] Boehner will be able to count on the votes of any lawmaker who plans to attend the tea party rally.”

Republicans, meanwhile, reiterated Wednesday that Democrats have failed to pass a funding measure out of their chamber. In an effort to pressure the Senate to act, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Wednesday that the House plans to vote Friday on a measure that essentially amounts to a re-vote of the legislation already passed by the House last month, which was rejected earlier this month by the Senate.

By  |  12:50 PM ET, 03/30/2011

 
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