The tea party's image appears to have taken another hit in the recent budget battle and government showdown. A new survey from the Pew Research Center says 49% of Americans now have a negative view of the tea party movement, up four points from last summer. Meantime, the movement's positive rating dropped by seven points to 30% during that same period. Those who are part of the tea party aren't surprised or fazed by the numbers. Some, like David Bozell, director of the group For America, see the negativity as a badge of honor. "People will always go after those that they fear," he tells KTRH. "So it's a testament to the tea party's success during this fight that they've upset the apple cart and basically turned Washington on its head."
Bozell sees the rise in negative ratings in line with the type of national coverage the tea party movement gets. "When you're getting beat up by the big, bad liberal media every single night...when David Letterman and the late night talk shows and Saturday Night Live are beating you up, human nature being what it is, your poll numbers go down," he says. Nevertheless, the tea party isn't as concerned with poll numbers as much as results. Bozell's group and others like them pledge to continue taking on what they call the Republican establishment. "From the tea party's perspective, now the mission begins to cleanse ourselves of these guys who are just simply not interested in standing up for our values."
If the Pew survey is any indication, the hard feelings are mutual on the part of the so-called GOP establishment. The poll found just 27% of moderate or liberal Republicans approve of the tea party, down 19 points since June. On the other hand, the popularity of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has surged among tea partiers since his push to defund Obamacare, from 47% last summer to 74% now. All poll numbers and popularity contests aside, Bozell echoes a message that many in the movement are sending. "The tea party is alive, it's well, and it's doing just fine."