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Tea Party ’10?

This Rasmussen poll is getting a lot of attention today, but it’s unclear why. First, the finding:

In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.

There is no Tea Party candidate, first of all, in 99.9% of all races. There’s an official Tea Party in Florida, I believe, but that’s about it. Most of these candidates are either running in Republican races or trying to push the Republican out of the race entirely. There’s no organization or structure in the Tea Party that would suggest a mass GOTV mobilization, either.

Does this suggest that there’s a 41-36 ballot edge for Republicans, when you add up the GOP and the Tea Party numbers? That’s certainly in line with Rasmussen polling, but not the rest of the polling being done on the generic ballot. In addition, a non-Tea Party Republican in the rank and file may not have much interest in voting for a Tea Party candidate, even against a Democrat, and vice-versa with a Tea Party voter and a Republican candidate seen as a RINO.

Point being, it’s hard to draw anything from this poll at all, though people on both sides of the political aisle are trying to do so today.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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