A new Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates that the tea party's gain is mostly the GOP's loss: the percentages of Americans seeing the Democratic Party as the most in sync with their values and as the most empathetic are about the same as in November, while the numbers siding with the GOP have dropped by nearly identical numbers now identifying with the tea party in these areas.
Moreover, the breakdowns indicate possible problems on two flanks: in the base and the middle.
White evangelical Protestants and those who consider themselves "very conservative" are about as apt to see themselves as in sync with the tea party as with the GOP on values, to see the tea party as empathetic and as being in-tune with the economic problems people are having. "Strong" Republicans and the "very" conservative are also the only groups where majorities say the more they hear about the movement, the more they like it.
But the GOP may also face problems appealing to the middle, with independents who lean Republican particularly intrigued by the tea party movement. Late last year, 81 percent of GOP-leaning independents said the Republican Party better represented their values; now just 36 percent do, with the drop off all moving to the tea party (42 percent in this group now says the tea party best reflects their values).
%GOP represents your own values: Nov. Now Change %Tea party now Ind. lean GOP 81% 36% -45 42 Con. Rep. 93 67 -26 25 Wh. evang. Ps. 61 36 -25 32 Republicans 91 69 -22 21 Conservatives 61 40 -21 27 Ind. ~GOP-lean 12 3 -9 6
%GOP concerned with people like you: Nov. Now Change %Tea party now Ind. lean GOP 75 34 -41 44 Con. Rep. 88% 57% -31 32 Wh. evang. Ps. 57 34 -23 35 Republicans 80 61 -19 26 Conservatives 59 37 -22 31 Ind. ~GOP-lean 12 7 -5 10