In official Washington, some consider the Tea Party movement a fringe element in society, but voters across the nation feel closer to the Tea Party movement than they do to Congress.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of U.S. voters believe the average member of the Tea Party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress. Only 30% believe that those in Congress have a better understanding of the key issues facing the nation.
When it comes to those issues, 47% think that their own political views are closer to those of the average Tea Party member than to the views of the average member of Congress. On this point, 26% feel closer to Congress.
Finally, 46% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is more ethical than the average member of Congress. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say that the average member of Congress is more ethical.
(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.
As you would expect, there is a wide divide between the Political Class and Mainstream Americans on these questions. Seventy-five percent (75%) of those in the Political Class say that members of Congress are better informed on the issues. Among Mainstream Americans, 68% have the opposite view, and only 16% believe Congress is better informed.
By a 62% to 12% margin, Mainstream Americans say the Tea Party is closer to their views. By a 90% to one percent (1%) margin, the Political Class feels closer to Congress.
“The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century,” Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, says in his new book, In Search of Self-Governance. “If we had to rely on politicians to fix these problems, the outlook for the nation would be bleak indeed. Fortunately, in America, the politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are.”
Earlier polling found that just 16% of voters nationwide consider themselves part of the Tea Party Movement. However, just 11% believe Congress is doing a good or an excellent job. Seventy-six percent (76%) think most members of Congress are more interested in their own careers than in helping people.
On all questions, Republicans overwhelming prefer the Tea Party. Unaffiliated voters also prefer the Tea Party by wide margins, but Congress fares a bit better with unaffiliateds than they do with Republicans.
Democrats, perhaps not surprisingly since their party currently controls both the House and Senate, are more evenly divided. Forty-five percent (45%) of those in Nancy Pelosi’s party say that their views are closer to the average member of Congress. However, 28% of Democrats say their views are closer to the average member of the Tea Party.
Men are more likely to align with the Tea Party than women, but a plurality of women prefer the Tea Party over Congress on every question in the survey.
If the Tea Party was organized as a political party, 34% of voters would prefer a Democrat in a three-way congressional race. In that hypothetical match-up, the Republican gets 27% of the vote with the Tea Party hopeful in third at 21%.
However, if only the Democrat or Republican had a real chance to win, most of the Tea Party supporters would vote for the Republican.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans had a favorable view of the so-called “tea party” protests just after they were held on Tax Day, April 15, last year. It was those events around the country that gelled into the Tea Party movement, a protest largely against what are viewed as the big government policies of both major political parties.