Interestingly, tea party Republicans and GOP leaners increasingly see their movement as part of the GOP. Back in 2011, nearly seven in 10 said it was a separate entity. And now, they are more likely than non-tea party Republicans to say the movement is part of the GOP.
Still, the fact that more than half of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents aligned with the tea party now see the movement as distinct from the GOP suggests the link isn't that strong, in their view.
In one sense, it's not so surprising how widely the tea party is seen as a separate entity, considering how sharply the views of those aligned with the movement clash with other Republicans. Take Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), for example. Among tea party Republicans and GOP leaners, Cruz's favorable rating has jumped from 47 percent in June to 74 percent now. Among non-tea party Republicans, his unfavorable rating has nearly doubled from 16 percent to 31 percent.
In another sense, it is a bit unexpected. It's clear there is a link between tea party Republicans and the GOP. Just ask yourself how many tea party members of Congress caucus with the Democrats.
The question is how strong that link is and where it's headed in the future. It's clearly eroded in recent months: The poll shows a drop in tea party favorability among conservative, moderate and liberal Republicans since June.