While the primary season has ended with many upsets involving candidates supported by Tea Party activists, the question now is whether the movement will have anywhere near the same impact on the general electorate beyond whether the candidates they supported do well or not on Election Day.
A CBS News/New York Times poll
conducted Sept. 10-14 suggests not, at least at this point of the campaign. Sixty-three percent of all Americans said they did not support the movement compared to 19 percent who did. Eighteen percent answered "don't know."
Forty-seven percent of those who say they are registered voters are undecided or haven't heard enough about the movement to have an opinion of it.
Fifty-four percent of Tea Party supporters identified themselves as Republicans as did 38 percent of independents. Less than one in 10 Democrats support the movement.
In previous surveys, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
conducted Aug. 26-30 said 49 percent were aware of the Tea Party but not interesting in voting with it. A CNN poll
conducted Sept. 1-2 said 40 percent viewed the movement unfavorably, 36 percent see it favorably, 10 percent never heard of it and 14 percent had no opinion.
So far this year, Tea Party activists got behind former House Speaker Marco Rubio in Florida whose surge among Republicans
prompted Gov. Charlie Crist, once considered a shoo-in, to leave the party and run as an independent. Three-term Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, a longstanding conservative but considered by activists to be too entrenched in Washington ways, didn't even qualify
for the primary ballot after Tea Party favorites outpolled him in a state party convention.
The story was the similar
in the year's final primaries on Tuesday. Little-known Christine O'Donnell upset longtime congressman and former governor Michael Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware and Carl Paladino, a millionaire real estate developer, beat favorite Rick Lazio for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in New York.
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