Down to the swill in the teacup

Down to the swill in the teacup

by digby

Greg Sargent flags an interesting tid-bit from the NY Times poll:

[T]he Tea Party is rapidly shrinking before our very eyes, and is hemorraging supporters at a surprising rate:

Do you consider yourself to be a supporter of the Tea Party movement, or not?
Yes 18
No 73

The 18 percent who self-identify as Tea Party supporters is at its lowest point, tying the 18 percent who supported it way back in April of 2010, when it was first gaining steam as the Congressional races of last cycle began heating up. The trajectory is interesting: The Times poll shows the Tea Party has had some ups and downs, but it steadily gained supporters as the 2010 campaigns wore on, and peaked with 31 percent of the electorate saying they supported the movement at around the time that the GOP won its massive 2010 victory.

Then its support began to decline, and it then dropped a precipitous eight points from June until today — a period that roughly coincided with the debt ceiling debate, which showcased Tea Party intransigence and self-delusion at its finest. Not only that, but right now, the 73 percent who say they are not supporters is at its highest point ever.

He notes that even as they lose influence around the country they seemed to have become the most powerful players in Washington, drawing the GOP far to the right in the debt ceiling negotiations. But I wonder if that's true. I've always been a little skeptical of the various "walk-outs", temper tantrums and complaints about the stubborn Tea Partiers on the part of Boehner and Cantor. Indeed, I suspect they quite enjoyed deploying the Madman Theory on the White House and the eager beavers in the beltway press.

Obviously, I have no way of knowing exactly what their plan was, but looking back on it, it certainly was unfortunate that the President ended up publicly offering up the most sacred cows in the Democratic Party in his quest for a Grand Bargain while Boehner got out of those negotiations unscathed. All the talk about Cantor angling for his job must have given him a whole lot of clout in those discussions as well. When you think about it, does it seem even remotely likely that Boehner was really going to give the President his number one legacy desire in the year before the election?

Who knows? I am probably assuming much more cleverness on the part of these Republicans than they deserve. It may very well have come down exactly as the stories indicated. But let's just say it wouldn't surprise me if the "Tea Party" in congress was never quite as bold as they were portrayed. The good cop/bad cop routine isn't all that obscure a tactic.

It's good news that fewer people are identifying with these extremists. But it's probably bad news for the Democrats going into the 2012 campaign. All evidence so far points to the fact that they are counting on wing nut lunacy to be the main rationale for people to vote for them.