Tea Party Now Too Much of an Insider for Voters to Like It

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Boston Tea Party
Tea parties are so last year. Photo: null/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Five years after the tea party first began charming Republican voters and helping to transform the art of accomplishing nothing into the status quo at Capitol Hill, the group’s popularity is suffering. It seems to have so successfully infiltrated Washington and state governments across the country that Americans, drunk in love with the new hottest political trend — the outsidier, the better — are no longer impressed by their antics. 

Even devoted outsiders become boring insiders eventually.

Voters might have also decided that they are bored by intransigence and are dying for Washington politics to have a plot that involves fewer marathon floor speeches and deposed leaders and more legislation. Last month, Americans named “dissatisfaction with government” as one of the most important problems facing the U.S.

A new Gallup survey shows that support for the tea party has dropped to a new low; 17 percent of Americans label themselves as supporters of the movement. Fifty-four percent of Americans have no feelings about the tea party, considering themselves neither supporters nor opponents. Among conservative Republicans — the movement’s base — support for the tea party has dropped 21 percentage points since last year; 42 percent of conservatives consider themselves tea-party supporters. However, given that many of the voters who choose to cast a ballot in next year’s GOP primaries will be among the party’s most passionate and conservative supporters, the dropping support doesn’t mean that the group won’t have a presence in next year’s election, especially since the outsiders that voters are enchanted by in this cycle are making tea-party-esque promises to bring a political Swiffer to Washington, if with new and improved branding.