Support for the Tea Party movement is at a near-record low, according to the most recent Gallup poll. Of the 1,510 adults surveyed across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 22% say they support the Tea Party, while 27% oppose it – and 51% surveyed currently say they neither support nor oppose it.
According to past Gallup polls, the Tea Party had its record high following in 2010, with 32% of Americans pledging support. Its record low hit in the end of 2011, with only 21% of Americans holding a favorable view. The results of the most recent poll nearly match the results of the survey from two years ago – except that the amount of those who say they oppose the Tea Party has jumped from 21% to 27%.
What are the reasons for this decline? The numbers indicate that the partnership between the Republican Party and Tea Party may be fading out. While a majority of Democrats continue to identify themselves as strong opponents of the Tea Party and their numbers remain virtually unchanged, fewer Republicans are self-reporting as Tea Party supporters. Even though only 5% of Republicans identified themselves as opponents of the Tea Party, far more are choosing to remain neutral. According to the survey conducted in November 2010, 65% of Republicans claimed to be Tea Party supporters. That number dropped significantly in the September 2013 poll, with only 38% pledging their support.
The numbers may appear to be discouraging – or encouraging, according to your point of view – but they are just part of an overall trend of growing disapproval of the national government, state government, and even local government. The September Gallup poll also surveyed Americans’ trust in the three branches of government, finding that Americans’ trust in the government is close to a record low in the Executive and Legislative branches, at 51% and 34% respectively. The Judicial branch, while still higher than the other two, hit an all-time low of 62%. State and local governments appear to have earned more trust than the national government, with approval ratings of 62% and 71% respectively, but their percentages have shown a downward trend in recent years.
According to analyst Jeffrey M. Jones, Americans’ trust in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government could be related to perceptions of how things are going in the country and how well the government tackles important issues. For example, Americans’ trust in the federal government’s ability to handle problems at home and internationally are both at historical lows. On the other hand, if the federal government can successfully navigate the “shutdown” and begin addressing the nation’s social and economic issues within a reasonable time frame and without much more partisan mud-slinging, it is reasonable to conclude that Americans may feel more favorably about the government.