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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Tea Party Party?

Republicans’ favorite polling outfit, Rasmussen, sure gave the GOP a toxic little gift this week, in the form of a “generic ballot” for Congress listing the Tea Party Movement (hypothetically organized as a political party) as an option. The Tea Party brand outperformed the GOP 23% to 18% (Democrats lead the pack with 36%).
The Tea Party movement has been around for roughly ten months, compared to 156 years for the Republican Party.
Unsurprisingly, another political parvenu is being closely linked to this third-party talk. On Friday, Sarah Palin was pressed by a conservative talk radio host to rule a third-party presidential run in 2012 out or in. She responded: “If the Republican party gets back to that [conservative] base, I think our party is going to be stronger and there’s not going to be a need for a third party, but I’ll play that by ear in these coming months, coming years.”
Palin nicely sums up the real meaning of the Tea Party threat. It is exceptionally unusual, not to mention counter-intuitive, for a major party to move away from what is general perceived to be the political “center” and become self-obsessed with ideological purity immediately after two crushing general election defeats. But the Republican Party has been doing just that; it is a far more conservative party, in terms of its overall message, than it was going into the 2008 election cycle. But it’s not conservative enough just yet for a lot of activists, and for those Tea Party participants who really do think “looters” and “loafers” elected Barack Obama and are busily constructing a totalitarian society. Palin’s telling the world the rightward trend needs to continue, or she’ll be pleased to act out the GOP’s worst nightmare in 2012.

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