Wow! A new Rasmussen poll shows that a “Tea Party” candidate would get more votes than a Republican in a theoretical three-way matchup with a Democrat.
The survey shows that, on a generic Congressional ballot between the three parties, the Democrat gets 36%, the Tea Partier gets 23% and the Republican would garner just 18%.
The pollster’s analysis shows some real danger for the GOP in these results.
For this survey, the respondents were asked to assume that the Tea Party movement organized as a new political party. In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates. The rules of the election process—written by Republicans and Democrats--provide substantial advantages for the two established major parties. The more conventional route in the United States is for a potential third-party force to overtake one of the existing parties.
Greg Sargent, blogging at theplumline.com, says these results expose a major divide within the Republican party.
The thing is, of course, that the Tea Partiers’ success is exposing how deep the divide is within the GOP. Indeed, the poll finds that among Republican voters, the GOPer only holds a slim advantage over the Tea Party candidate, 39%-33%!
That prompted conservative blogger Ed Morrissey to remark that the national GOP’s best hope is to embrace the Tea Partiers agenda, or else.
“If not, expect another cycle of loss and frustration,” Morrissey wrote, referring to 2010.
It’s interesting that in the face of Tea Party Rising, the GOP leadership’s bestinterpretation of this poll may be to simply acknowledge the success of the Tea Party movement.