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Overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties tell GOP to heed the 'tea party'

January 31, 2011 |  4:28 am

Bachmann Michele SOTU response 1-25-11

Remember that Constitution-citing "tea party" rabble that puzzled the media so terribly last year and helped dump so many deaf Democrats from the House of Representatives in November?

Turns out, an overwhelming percentage of adult Americans think Republicans should take heed of the upstart movement's positions and concerns as they plot to dump President Obama and even more Democrats come the 2012 election, now just 645 days away.

A new Gallup Poll out this morning finds that 71% of Americans, even many who do not think highly of the "tea party," say it's important that Republicans should take the its positions into account.

Gallup appears puzzled by its findings: While only 6% of Democrats call themselves "tea party" supporters and only 11% hold a favorable view of it, more than half of Democrats still....

... think it's important the GOP work the movement's views into Republican programs. Perhaps some hope the tea party will help weaken the GOP, despite increasing support for the tea party's fiscal conservatism as deficit fears mount.

Among Republicans, not surprisingly, 88% say including the tea party is at least somewhat important, while a majority (53%) say it's very important.

Last week, you'll remember, the "tea party" even had its own short response to Obama's State of the Union speech, given by Rep. Michele Bachmann, who formed the House Tea Party Caucus, following the usual GOP response, given by Rep. Paul Ryan, who heads the House Budget Committee.

The dominant media theme, perhaps wistfully, was that this showed a split or, worse a schism, in the GOP. This despite denials all around and an impression among many who listened to the responses that Ryan's broad overview and Bachmann's detailed Perot-like charts complemented each other in a kind of Obama double-team.Paul Ryan Budget Committee chairman

The new Gallup findings seem to indicate that by a lopsided margin, regardless of their "tea party" impressions, Americans see such cooperation or teamwork as a good thing. Developing support for tea party positions as well as listening could augur large trouble for Obama's reelect next year.

An earlier post-speech Gallup Poll found the president's assertion that the troubled economy is "poised for progress" was rejected by a majority of Americans, who say the economy is actually still worsening. Obama will try his economic pitch again Wednesday on a sales trip to Pennsylvania.

Although historically relatively little of State of the Union speeches actually come to fruition, Gallup found widespread doubts about some other assertions by the Democrat:

They don't like the idea of replacing No Child Left Behind, preferring just revision.

Contrary to the Obama administration's offshore drilling moratoriums, two-thirds of Americans favor a new energy bill to expand domestic exploration and drilling.

The president outlined a vast new program to rebuild what he called a "crumbling" infrastructure. Americans oppose more stimulus spending and think reducing the deficit is much more important.

Americans oppose giving existing illegal immigrants "a path to legal status" and prefer halting the flow of illegal immigrants before addressing the problems of those already here.

And on Obama's proudest achievement, his signature healthcare legislation, only 13% like the idea of keeping it as is. Everyone else favors minor changes, major changes or tossing out the entire thing.

Other than that though, the president's 62-minute speech seems to have gone over really well.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: screengrab via Associated Press; Steven Elliott / MCT (Ryan).

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