Support for the tea party weakens


The most important feature of last Tuesday's primary was not the anti-incumbent vote. It certainly wasn't the "Year of the Women" especially for the Republicans.

Rather the primary's most important feature was the decline of the tea party and the emergence of serious divisions in the ranks of the Republicans.

It should surprise no one that two wealthy Republican corporate women could win the Republican nomination for governor and the Senate in California. Meg Whitman spent something like $100 a vote. At least $80 million of the $100 million she spent was her own money. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewitt Packard won the GOP nomination for the Senate and will run against Barbara Boxer.

On last Sunday's "Meet the Press", Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who heads the, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), rejected the idea that this was "the year of the women" for the Republicans. She pointed out that out of the 104 candidates on the Republican Congressional Committee's "young guns list" only 7 are women.

The Republican right, with most of the media on their side, are pushing the idea that this is an anti-incumbent election year, but so far of the 217 House members who ran for re-election , all but two have won their primaries.

But most importantly a recent Washington Post-ABC News shows a decline in popular support for the tea party.

The June 3-6 Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that from late March to early June of this year, those who had a "favorable impression" of the tea party dropped from 41% to 36% and those with an "unfavorable impression" grew from 39% to 50%.

When asked, "Do you think things in this country (are generally going in the right direction) or do you feel things (have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?)", 60% of respondents said things were going in the wrong direction and only 37% said the right direction.

This shows serious mass discontent with things today.

No doubt unemployment and underemployment, foreclosures and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wearing people down.

At the same time when asked which party, Democrats or Republicans do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years 32% said Republicans and 44% said Democrats. Now these aren't sharply contrasting number but they show a trend away from the right.

There are a lot of primary races to come and polls are just snapshots of opinions at a given moment. Opinions in congressional races have to be examined in specific congressional districts. However that said, things are not trending well for the extreme right and the tea party. This suggests that with a strong grass roots effort by labor and people's forces to get Democratic minded voters to the polls, the usual midterm losses by the party in power could be a lot less then usual.

Put another way, the extreme right's effort to defeat any measures to tax the rich and help working families could be defeated. Their effort to mobilize a large racist vote around the idea of "taking the government back" from the first the African American president can be rebuffed.

Rand Paul the libertarian who just won the Republican nomination for US Senate in Kentucky characterized Obama policy toward British Petroleum as "un American". This new McCarthyism from the new right must be defeated if there is to be any real progress. That's how fundamental this struggle is.

If this trend continues the predictions that the Republicans will make big comeback in November could prove to be totally wrong.

Photo: Gage Skidmore