With a new poll claiming that fifty-seven percent of Americans say that neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy movement share their views, pundits are claiming both movements’ hey day may be history. But others are not so sure.
Most pundits – be they Democrat or Republican – will admit that the Tea Party played a pivotal role in sending a new stable of GOP Congressmen to Washington in 2010 and changed the nation’s political landscape.
But without a clear majority of Americans behind it, will the Tea Party run out of steam before the November 2012 elections?
“Not hardly,” says Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation.
“2010 was just the beginning of the what will be a long run for people that are fed up with how things are going in Washington and in a number of state capitals. I realize the people I deal with on a daily basis are for the most part like me, but people who are standing in the checkout line at the grocery store or especially in the unemployment line certainly have strong feelings about the need to defeat President Obama.”
Democrats who say Tea Party support is falling by the wayside due to dwindling numbers at rallies and meetings may be missing the larger picture according to another Tea Party activist.
Colorado resident Ken Lesley Hollywood has been involved in the Tea Party since 2008 and also sees the group’s presence continuing to increase.
“The outlet of activism has shifted, just as it would with any movement. Hosting and attending rallies served its purpose at one time: it built relationships, engaged the public, grew the movement, and gave interested individuals a place to get connected,” Hollywood told The American Spectator.
“But after two years and numerous rallies, members are ready for something different and they are putting their energy into more effective outlets,” she said. “Here in Colorado we are fighting redistricting, we are focusing on municipal elections and issues, and we’re watching the state legislature and gearing up for 2012.”
For all the debate around the growing or diminishing strength of the Tea Party, every one of the GOP presidential candidates spends a portion of their time courting the groups most entrenched supporters.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who many consider the poster child of the Tea Party faithful, has a large following of young people who are willing to travel hundreds of miles to support him in straw polls.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich all spend an inordinate amount of time tailoring their stump speeches on the economic issues espoused by the group.
And the Occupy movement may not be waning as well, say some observers. One reason could be the growing divide between ‘have’ and ‘have not’s.’ Corporate downsizing, along with a realignment of certain jobs eliminated due to technology have reduced the number of $50,000 - $100,000 salaries that existed up until the last couple of years.
Of those surveyed in the latest poll, 79 percent believe the gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger over the past twenty years and 67 percent agree that the government should do more to bridge the gap between the two; an opinion that most in the Tea Party would likely disagree with.
The majority of business analyst believes those jobs will be lost forever and that and the fact that recent college graduates have a heavy debt load and no job prospects are major contributors to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.
Proof of this is found in the PRRI survey. Americans who fall into the Millennial generation (ages 18-29), are much more likely to identify with the Occupy movement that the Tea Party ideals.