NYT Covers Falling Tea Party Support, Ignores Polls Showing Sharp Downturn in OWS Appeal

Kate Zernike, whose reporting on the Tea Party for the New York Times is often hostile, on Wednesday devoted a full story to an outside poll, from the Pew Research Center, claiming falling support for the Tea Party 'may be dragging down the Republican Party heading into a presidential election year." ('Support for Tea Party Falls In Strongholds, Polls Show.')

Yet the Times has ignored recent polls from firms it has cited in the past showing a sharp decline in support for the left-wing Occupy Wall Street, polls that show OWS's public appeal well below that of the Tea Party. (By contrast, the Times trumpeted its own earlier poll showing favorable results for Occupy Wall Street on the October 26 front page.)

Zernike wrote Wednesday:

Support for the Tea Party - and with it, the Republican Party - has fallen sharply even in places considered Tea Party strongholds, according to an analysis of new polls.

In Congressional districts represented by Tea Party lawmakers, the number of people saying they disagree with the movement has risen significantly since it powered a Republican sweep in midterm elections; almost as many people disagree with it as agree with it, according to the analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Support for the Republican Party has fallen even further in those places than it has in the country as a whole. In the 60 districts represented in Congress by a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, Republicans are now viewed about as negatively as Democrats.

The analysis suggests that the Tea Party may be dragging down the Republican Party heading into a presidential election year, even as it ushered in a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives just a year ago.

Other polls have shown a decline in support for the Tea Party and its positions, particularly because its hard line during the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction made it less an abstraction than it was a year ago. In earlier polls, most Americans did not know enough about the Tea Party to offer an opinion.

The decline over time is substantial but not catastrophic:

...Among the public, 27 percent said they disagreed with the Tea Party and 20 percent said they agreed - a reversal from a year ago, when 27 percent agreed and 22 percent disagreed.

In Tea Party districts, 23 percent of people now disagree with the Tea Party, while 25 percent agree. A year ago, 18 percent of people in those districts disagreed with the Tea Party, and 33 percent agreed.

Zernike concluded by letting Pew's Andrew Kohut use the poll as a weapon against Republican prospects in 2012.

How much this affects Republican chances in the presidential contest next year, Mr. Kohut said, probably depends on which candidate wins the nomination.

'If the candidate is of a more conservative bent, he or she will have to deal with this complaint about the Tea Party among the general public, of being too extreme and not willing to compromise,' he said.

Recent polls by Quinnipiac University (Nov. 3) and Public Policy Polling (Nov. 16) showed public support for Occupy Wall Street falling sharply, with the Tea Party having a more favorable profile than OWS, after a month in which OWS was responsible for more than its share of vandalism and violent incidents. Yet searches on Nexis and nytimes.com indicate the Times has yet to mention those unfavorable results, either in print or online.

But when Quinnipiac released a poll earlier showing New Yorkers (at the time) favored the presence of Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, it made the October 18 edition.

- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site.