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Most Americans Believe the GOP Needs to Listen to the Tea Party, Poll Finds

3 years ago
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About seven in 10 Americans, and an even larger percentage of Republicans, believe it is important that GOP leaders consider ideas put forward by the tea party movement, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Jan. 14-16.

The poll comes as the traditional leadership of the party must adjust to an infusion of tea party-endorsed lawmakers who want to be even more aggressive than some Republicans on issues such as cutting spending and the size of government. They have also started eying Republicans such as Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, whom they want to force from office in 2012.

Tea party lawmakers have also formed their own caucuses in the House and Senate.

Some of the tough decisions and tensions Republicans have already faced include Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann's unsuccessful attempt to get a spot in the GOP leadership and then making her own response to President Obama's State of the Union address -- despite the fact that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was already giving the official party response, a move that angered some GOP leaders.

Still, 71 percent of all Americans say it is very or somewhat important for tea party ideas to be considered by the GOP, a view held by 88 percent of Republicans. Fifty-three percent of Republicans regard this is as "very" important.

Seventy-two percent of independents say it is very or somewhat important for tea party advocates to be heard, as do 53 percent of Democrats.

However, the tea party movement as a whole is not regarded as favorably by the public as the Republican Party is. While 47 percent see Republicans favorably compared to 43 percent who do not, 42 percent see the tea party movement unfavorably compared to 39 percent who had a positive view. The remainder in each case expressed no opinion.

The Republican favorability figures were in positive territory for the first time since 2005. The overall opinion of the tea party movement has been fairly stable since last April, when it was seen unfavorably by a 42 percent to 39 percent margin with 20 percent expressing no opinion.

Gallup also found that 30 percent of Americans say they are supporters of the tea party movement, 25 percent oppose it and 46 percent are in neither camp or have no opinion.

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