Poll: Tea Party approval reaches new low

The public's approval of the conservative Tea Party has reached a new low, according to a poll released Wednesday.

A CNN/Opinion Research survey showed that only 32 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, while 47 percent view it unfavorably. Seven percent said they have not heard of the Tea Party, and 14 percent said they have no opinion.

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Those numbers are down from their high in April 2010, when favorability outstripped unfavorability 38-36 percent. The public also had a neutral view of the groups heading into the midterm elections — favorability and unfavorability were tied at 37 percent.

Despite the poll, Tea Party activists have been able to wield considerable influence over House GOP freshmen during the debate over spending, with many of the 87-member bloc pushing leadership for greater cuts.

But political observers have questioned whether the Tea Party, a major figure in the 2010 elections, could translate that influence into 2012 and beyond.

Out of the demographic groups polled, non-whites — a group that broke heavily for President Obama in 2008 —see the Tea Party in the worst light. Twenty-one percent said they view the group favorably, compared to 57 percent who have an unfavorable view.

Democrats disapprove of the Tea Party at a greater rate than Republicans approve of it. Seventy-one percent of Democrats see it unfavorably, while 61 percent of Republicans view it favorably.

Independents' opinions (31-48 unfavorable) generally match those of the public at large.

The telephone poll of 1,023 U.S. adults was taken between March 11-13. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.