Tea Party losing appeal By Ed Pilkington - Monday 11th April 2011

FIVE months ago a ragtag army of disaffected conservative voters calling itself the Tea Party movement took Washington by storm.
Thousands of activists across the country delivered Barack Obama a bloody nose, helping to return 87 new Republicans to Congress and shifting the balance of power on Capitol Hill sharply to the right. Commentators predicted then that the Tea Parties had permanently changed the face of American politics. But last week, a very different impression was given, with signs of an apparent wane in popularity.
In the most vivid indication of the Tea Parties` changing fortunes, their TV darling Glenn Beck was toppled from his Fox News throne. A year ago, the broadcaster-cum-preacher-cum-clown appeared invincible with almost three million viewers tuning in to his rants, but by last month his ratings had fallen below two million and he had become the target of a boycott of Fox advertisers angered by his extreme comments.
The sidelining of Beck has been mirrored by the apparent paling of that other Tea Party favourite, Sarah Palin. She acted as kingmaker in the November mid-term elections, endorsing several Tea Party candidates who are now prominent in Congress, but surveys of voters in key electoral states such as Iowa suggest her star has been falling. Wall Street Journal
Opinion polls reflect a similar trend among the Tea Parties generally. A /NBC poll this week suggested that 44 per cent of Americans feel negatively towards the movement, up from 30 per cent in January.
But prominent figures within the movement insist that the impression that it has gone off the boil belies reality. “The idea that the Tea Party has waned is a total misreading of what has happened,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a Washington-based group that has spearheaded local groups. “We`ve evolved from a protest movement to a get-out-the-vote machine last November to what we are today — a network of local groups holding our representatives to account.”
Jeffrey Berry, professor of politics at Tufts university, agrees that though the Tea Parties have kept a low profile since November they should by no means be written off. They have continued to wield influence within Congress by threatening to have Republican politicians such as Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dick Lugar of Indiana unseated in 2012 should they fail to follow a cost-cutting right-wing agenda. Berry believes they have had a chilling effect across the Republican party, forcing Congress members to swing to the right out of an instinct for sheer self-preservation. n
The potential shutdown of the federal government was a case in point. The hard line taken by Republican leaders in refusing to compromise over $60bn in cuts to the federal budget bore the classic hallmark of the Tea Parties.
—The Guardian, London

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/11/tea-party-losing-appeal.html

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