On his nightly Tea Time segment during his MSNBC show Countdown tonight, host Keith Olbermann dove into the growing desperation of the Tea Party movement, and said, “A hint of desperation is starting to sink in. He highlighted that the Tea Party has admitted that they coined their own nickname. He used poll numbers that show the negativity of is starting to hinder the enthusiasm of Republicans.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
In his continuing battle with the Tea Party over who coined the term teabagger as a nickname for the Tea Partiers, Olbermann pointed to a December 2009 post on the National Review Online, “The first big day for this movement was Tax Day, April 15. And organizers had a gimmick. They asked people to send a tea bag to the Oval Office. One of the exhortations was “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” A protester was spotted with a sign saying, “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.” So, conservatives started it: started with this terminology. But others ran with it and ran with it.” (This should finally put to bed the claims that the Left coined the term, when the right who first embraced their love of teabagging).
Olbermann’s point was that the Republican Party is starting to feel some backlash for the campaign of negativity and hate launched by the Tea Party. He cited Gallup survey data that asked voters from all parties how they responded to certain political terms. The term militia had a 65% negative rating. The term libertarian had a 37% positive rating. Civil liberties had a 76% positive rating, and civil rights had an 87% positive rating. Worst of all for the Tea Party, the term progressive had a 68% positive rating. Olbermann closed by pointing out that the GOP is losing their lead in voter enthusiasm. While Democrats have gone from 35% to 33% on the enthusiasm scale, Republicans have fallen from 54%-43% in a month.
Much of the slipping GOP enthusiasm can be attributed to an improving economy. The correlation is simple. As the pocketbook politics of Americans continues to improve, their anger diminishes. Olbermann did leave out one key point. Recent polling the popularity of the Tea Party has showed that they are only approved of by 37%-39% of those surveyed, and those who do approve are overwhelmingly Republican.
Olbermann’s was trying to connect the negativity of the Tea Party to the sinking fortunes of the GOP, but I believe there are more reasons for the decline than just negativity. Remember, those who support the Tea Party are the negative people, so the negativity isn’t a surprise. It is my best guess that the Tea Party lost a whole lot of steam when health care reform was passed. Health care, not taxes, had become their signature issue, and when they didn’t, “kill the bill,” they become just another failed fringe movement. However the video is worth watch just for Olbermann’s use of the National Review as documentation of the origin of the teabagger term.