Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Sacramento, Calif., tea party (WND photo / Chelsea Schilling)
Crowds have long protested Congress with rally cries of “Throw the bums out,” and if recent polls tabulating tea party furor over government spending translate to votes in 2010, angry Americans may make good on their mantra.
Polls released by Rasmussen Reports this week demonstrate that – at least within the Republican Party – sitting incumbents who vote for increased government, taxes and federal bailouts risk voter backlash in the next election.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., for example, is one of only three Republicans in Congress to vote for President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan. According to a Rasmussen poll released this morning, the 28-year senator now trails his 2004 GOP primary rival Pat Toomey in the polls by 21 points: 51 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans say they’d vote for Toomey in a 2010 primary, while just 30 percent would support Specter.
A separate Rasmussen poll demonstrated that 58 percent of Specter’s Republican constituents cited his support of the stimulus package as reason for their waning support.
When asked in December about a possible challenger in the 2010 election, Specter told CNN’s “Late Edition,” “I never look over my shoulder, never look behind. Somebody may be gaining on me. I run with blinders. I’ll be prepared, whoever my opponents are.”
If Specter continues to vote in favor of increased government spending, however, his most troubling opponents in 2010 may not be from the Republican or the Democratic Party, but from the “tea” parties.
“We are leading a revolution, and this is the first day of that revolution,” Sacramento tea party organizer Mark Meckler said before the crowd that gathered at the California capitol. “Politicians will no longer be able to divide our nation. They are taking our money, and we aren’t going to stand here and take it anymore.”
(WND photo / Chelsea Schilling)
WND’s Chelsea Schilling was at the Sacramento rally, reporting on the “sea of red, white and blue U.S. flags waved above a large crowd that surrounded the building and spilled into city streets.”
“We’ve had it!” Meckler shouted. “We’re tired of being punished by politicians!”
According to Schilling, the crowd cheered wildly and drowned out Meckler’s voice, chanting, “Vote them out! Vote them out!”
According to the Rasmussen polls, it’s a chant Republican incumbents in particular need to heed.
In Specter’s state, the poll found that 79 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans have a favorable opinion of the tea parties, and 30 percent knew someone personally who attended. Overall, 82 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans agree with the partiers that the federal government has too much money and too much power.
Rasmussen poll respondents were categorized Mainstream if their answers to three questions indicate that they trust the judgment of the public more than political leaders, view the federal government as a special interest group and believe that big business and big government work together against the interests of investors and consumers. Political Class respondents answered in the opposite of Mainstream views.
According to Rasmussen, the Mainstream perspective is generally shared nearly equally across the spectrum by Democrats, Republicans and affiliated respondents. Polls further indicated that 55 percent of Americans are Mainstream and only 7 percent fall into the Political Class; when “leaners” are included, 75 percent lean toward the more populist views and 14 percent lean the other way.
When examining the tea party movement in those terms, not only do Mainstream Republicans overwhelmingly back the tea party protests, but Rasmussen also discovered that 54 percent of Mainstream Democrats held a favorable opinion as well.
Furthermore, when separating the tea party gatherings themselves out of the equation, Rasmussen discovered Americans overwhelmingly support the protesters’ ideals of smaller government, lower taxes and less federal spending.
According to a Rasmussen poll earlier this week, 60 percent of Americans agree that the government has too much power and too much money. Among Republicans, 88 percent agree, while 62 percent of unaffiliated respondents and 35 percent of Democrats agree.
When factoring in the divide between Mainstream and Political Class respondents, however, Rasmussen discovered that a whopping 85 percent of Mainstream Americans – regardless of political party affiliation – agree with the common tea party protest that the government has too much power and too much money.