Approval ratings for sitting members of Congress have reached all-time lows, according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll. Only 29 percent of Americans say they’re likely to vote for their House representative in the midterm elections this year. But Americans aren’t necessarily thrilled with the alternatives outside the Beltway, either. The same poll also discovers “growing disapproval of the ‘tea party’ movement, with half the population now expressing an unfavorable impression of the loosely aligned protest campaign that has shaken up politics this year.”
Compare this figure with polling that was conducted at the end of last year: in Decmeber 2009, only 24 percent of Americans had a negative view of the Tea Party movement, while 41 percent said they had a favorable view, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Taking the polls together, one could conclude that more than twice as many Americans disapprove of the Tea Party movement now than they did six months ago. What’s changed? Back in December, the Tea Party was gaining momentum from their opposition to the Democratic health care reform bill. But since then, the movement’s fringe activists have been getting more airtime: the “Obamacare” protest was capped off by alleged racial slurs and heckling, anti-immigrant activists have glommed onto the movement, and birther queen Orly Taitz is running for office and claiming Tea Party support. By trying to capitalize on the Tea Party, these fringe players don’t seem to be doing the movement any favors.