More than three years after its inception, the tea party continues to attract support from more than four in 10 Americans. But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds waning interest in the political movement and a drop in the number of women giving positive reviews of its message.
In the new poll, 41 percent of Americans support the tea party, and 45 percent oppose it, similar numbers to those in polls throughout the past year. As in previous polling, strong opponents outnumber strong supporters by 2 to 1. But half express less intense feeling either way.
(The fact that a large swath of the public is “somewhat” supportive of or opposed to the movement helps explain why polls with different question wordings find wide-ranging levels of support for the movement.)
The new poll finds fewer Americans interested in learning more about the tea party than said so in 2010, and increasing numbers say that the more they hear about the movement, the less they like it. Six in 10 Americans now say they’re not interested in learning more about the tea party, and half say they like it less the more they hear about it, both up from two years ago.
Women in particular have lost curiosity and become more negative about the movement. In 2010, just under half of men and women alike said they were interested in learning about the tea party. Men are similarly inclined now, but the percentage of women who say they’d like to hear more has dropped significantly.
There’s also been a sharp increase among both independent and Republican women in the percentages saying that the more they hear about the tea party the less they like it. In 2010, a plurality of independent women said they liked the movement increasingly as they learned more; today, they say they like it less by 2 to 1. Republican women — who gave some of the most positive reviews of the tea party message two years ago — are far more tempered in their support this year.
Overall, partisanship and ideology continue to define tea party supporters. Vast majorities of Republicans and conservatives express support for the tea party movement, while liberals and Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it.
As before, racial and ethnic minorities hold overwhelmingly negative views of the tea party. A 56 percent majority of all non-whites oppose the movement, including 77 percent of African Americans. Whites are more divided — 45 percent support the tea party, and 41 percent oppose it. White women are less interested in and positive about the movement’s message than two years ago, while there has been somewhat less change among white men.
This poll was conducted April 5 to April 8 among a random national sample of 1,103 adults. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.