A poll released Saturday depicts the Tea Party movement as a staunchly libertarian group that is unhappy with both political parties, suggesting that the group is still not sold on voting for Republicans in the fall.

The survey, conducted by the Washington-based polling firm The Winston Group, showed that members of the Tea Party were mostly Republicans (57 percent) but that 28 percent considered themselves independents and 13 percent said they were Democrats.

The St. Petersburg Times reported on the poll. The survey showed that members of theTea Party are deeply unhappy with politicians in Washington; only 15 percent said they think the country is on the right path.


The Times wrote:

"It's a foolish politician who would brand tea party-ites as a monolithic, far-right bag of extremists," said Darryl Paulson, professor of government and Florida politics for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. "He or she would soon be an ex-politician."


The survey sounds on the mark to O'Neal. "The tea party movement gets some people who are attracted by the energy and excitement and some others who are just angry at life. But the core are people who are against bigger government and higher taxes."

That independents and Democrats make up four of every 10 tea partiers doesn't surprise him.

"There are two things about the Republican Party we don't like," he said. "They identify with big business. And the corporate bailouts started with George Bush and Henry Paulson (Bush's treasury secretary)."

The survey indicates that Republicans still have more work to do to woo Tea Party voters to their side in November. GOP leaders have made repeated overtures to the Tea Party movement, releasing statements and appearing at rallies. Members of the Republican rank-and-file appeared on balconies at the Capitol last month to rev up Tea Party protesters who descended on Washington to protest the healthcare vote.

 But Tea Partyers are still wary of shacking up with the Republicans.  Several third-party and insurgent Republicans are running in races across the country against more established GOP candidates.

The Times reported:

Texas millionaire Ross Perot won almost 20 million votes in the 1992 presidential election with a libertarian message before his popularity faded. He appealed to voters who believed neither party cared about their financial concerns. Winston sees the tea party as the legacy of Perot.

He said tea partiers may be unhappy with the Republican Party, but believe the GOP is more likely to shrink government than Democrats.

Still, "Republicans haven't made the sale yet."

Winston polled 1,000 registered voters between Dec. 2009 and Feb. 2010. Only 17 percent of respondents indicated they consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement.