House Democrats Are Itching for a Tea Party Referendum. Will It Work?
Rep. Steve Israel of New York, the leader of House Democrats’ campaign arm, sketched out his approach to the 2014 cycle on Wednesday, boiling it down to a simple guiding philosophy.
“2014 will be a referendum about one thing: tea party extremism. That’s the deal. That’s the campaign. That’s the cycle,” Israel declared.
Will it work? Answering that question requires first looking more closely at the tea party movement, which has faded in some ways but persisted in others.
On the one hand, the tea party is a shell of its former self, which would suggest Democrats are chasing after a flailing movement that isn’t broadly popular and doesn’t present a huge threat.
In a February NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 20 percent of registered voters called themselves supporters of the tea party movement — a tick down from 23 percent in January, and a two-year low. And in a January Associated Press-GfK poll, 22 percent of Americans identified themselves as supporters of tea party movement, tying a record low in that survey.