Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans have a favorable view of the “tea parties” held nationwide last week, including 32% who say their view of the events is Very favorable.
Thirty-three percent (33%) hold an unfavorable opinion of the tea parties according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.
While half the nation has a favorable opinion of last Wednesday’s events, the nation’s Political Class has a much dimmer view—just 13% of the political elite offered even a somewhat favorable assessment while 81% said the opposite. Among the Political Class, not a single survey respondent said they had a Very Favorable opinion of the events while 60% shared a Very Unfavorable assessment.
One-in-four adults (25%) say they personally know someone who attended a tea party protest. That figure includes just one percent (1%) of those in the Political Class.
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David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Obama, on Sunday characterized the protests in dozens of cities on the day federal income taxes are due as potentially “unhealthy.”
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Americans say they followed recent new stories about the tea party protests, including 32% who followed Very Closely. Forty-one percent (41%) say they didn’t follow the reports.
Republicans were far more interested in the protests than others. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans followed news reports, with 50% following Very Closely. By comparison, just 47% of Democrats and 50% of adults not affiliated with either major party say they followed the reports at least somewhat closely.
Just 32% of the Political Class was following along. Among those with populist, or Mainstream, views, 68% were paying attention.
While 83% of Republicans and a plurality (49%) of unaffiliated Americans have a favorable view of the tea party protests, only 28% of Democrats say the same.
The Political Class and Mainstream classifications are determined by the answers to three questions measuring general attitudes about government.
Most Americans trust the judgment of the public more than political leaders, view the federal government as a special interest group and believe that big business and big government work together against the interests of investors and consumers. Only seven percent (7%) share the opposite view and can be considered part of the Political Class.
On many issues, there is a bigger gap between the Political Class and Mainstream Americans than between Mainstream Republicans and Mainstream Democrats. That was true on the tea parties, but Mainstream Republicans do express a more positive view of the protests than Mainstream Democrats. Still, a majority (54%) of Mainstream Democrats had a favorable opinion of the tea parties.
While Americans are slightly more optimistic about the economy’s improvement in the short term, they are growing more concerned that the government may do too much to try to help things along.
Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans adults now think most people get involved in politics to protect themselves from what the government might do.
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