It may be a bit early to predict what the impact of the recently-consolidated Tea Party movement will be on future elections (both this fall and in 2012), but as their relevance grows on the national political scene, their views carry increasingly more weight. To that end, Politico set out to find what tea partiers think of some of the conservative movement’s top leaders. While most results were predictable– their love of Glenn Beck and suspicion towards John McCain, for starters– Politico also found some surprises in the attitudes towards some of their biggest supporters.
It probably wouldn’t have taken extensive polling to discover that Sen. John McCain, who is facing a significant Tea Party challenge for his Arizona seat from radio personality JD Hayworth, is not the best-liked man in the Republican Party. McCain topped the list of least popular Republicans, with some surveyed citing his progressive tendencies, others his family’s support of same-sex marriage, and some even blaming him directly for putting “an inexperienced and corrupt man in the White House.” Also making the list? Polarizing Republican Party head Michael Steele, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and moderate Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (who recently picked a fight with Tea Party favorite Glenn Beck). Almost every prominent Republican from the Northeast– Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, et al– got a dishonorable mention, too.
Most of those garnering some Tea Party love are not currently holding public office, keeping with the movement’s spirit of being tired of career politicians. Beck and Sarah Palin made the top of the list while, somewhat surprisingly, more aggressive, traditionally conservative media figures like Andrew Breitbart and Michelle Malkin joined them. Among those in office that received praise were Representatives Ron Paul (who is often credited for founding the movement) and Michele Bachmann, and Senator Jim DeMint.
Most surprisingly of all? Even those who love Sarah Palin among Tea Partiers question her intelligence, her ties to John McCain and insistence on uniting the Republicans with the Tea Partiers. In a sign that maybe Beck was right when he refused to be her subordinate, one Tea Party leader commented that he believed she needed to be “under the wing” of someone with a better handle on issues, noting he believed “her education would excel under the guidance of Glenn Beck.”
Politico head Jim VandeHei went on Morning Joe this morning to discuss the survey results– watch the clip below: