|"A House divided..."|
Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul; posters of the Tea Party Movement have garnered up support across the country, whipping up passions out of the Religious and Far-Right. The Tea Party protest, which first started in 2010, had the movement see support of 37% of the country, it's highest level according to a recent Gallup poll. However, the movement has seen a loss in momentum, with 22% supporting, 24% opposing and 48% with a neutral opinion of the movement as of December. Republicans, 58% of who consider the movement favorable, see a contrast with Independent support. (29%) A decrease in support of the Tea Party can be attributed to the the government shutdown, as well as biased reporting from the media, with 53% of Americans putting the blame on Republicans according to the Washington Post.
The Tea Party has been Occupy Wall Streets main opponent, a response to the Obama administration and an answer to the lack of efficiency in Washington. With 48% of the movement being identified as the Christian Conservative Movement, the Tea Party has played an instrumental role in drumming up support of the Republican base, bringing attention to the many Americans the sheer fact there still is a group of people in this country willing to vote for the GOP. 138 self identified "Tea Partiers" won Congressional seats in 2010, causing Republicans to reclaim the House. Showing a resurgence in GOP support, the American People spoke up about their dissatisfaction with President Obama. Responsible for re-opening the topic of real fiscal accountability and reform by protest and actions across the country as well as in Congress, the Tea Party has proven to the American People that a fiscal crisis is coming.
Although the Religious Right and hard line conservatives are having their voices heard with the movement, moderates, 40% of the U.S. voting population, have reserved feelings on the issue. With only 29% of Independents supporting the Tea Party's movement, Republicans must try their best to draw in "on the fence" voters in the upcoming 2014 elections. Moderates do not like to associate themselves with a movement that is pure Right-wing. "Shutting down the government" like actions of the Tea Party have made the GOP look unfavorable in the eyes of moderates, due their aggressive actions and "my way or the highway" approaches to the issues. The base is inspired however, drumming up support for the 2014 midterm elections in red states and in electing libertarian leaning candidates like Rand Paul; yet by doing this, key would-be supporters would become more reluctant from voting Republican; putting the party in an interesting leadership dilemma.
Moderates like compromise, along with the majority of the country. Support for the Ryan-Murray Budget Plan, for example, had 50% of the nations support according to one CNN poll. With people willing to see some type of progress get done in Washington from one side, another strategy the GOP could use in drumming voters for the next election is to try an "across the aisle" approach with the Democrats. Coming up with more bi-partisan solutions in Congress would not only end political gridlock, but could lead to a GOP victory in the 2014 midterm elections. Democratic control of the Senate and White House puts Republicans in a tough position. Suffering the wrath of divided government, the GOP is outnumbered in Congressional and Executive support of certain bills and policy. Republicans are not wiling to raise taxes and Democrats are not willing to cut spending, is one example of extreme partisanship. Ending the stalemate could prove that maybe bipartisanship can benefit Republicans.
The GOP can be the party to spark bi-partisan support, changing the tide of unfortunate negative perception that the party receives from uneducated, "never" voters. Republicans like Paul Ryan and Susan Collins, can lead the fight for moderates, attracting Independent voters; the fastest growing political affiliation in the U.S., especially in battleground states like Florida and North Carolina by leading the fight for unity and binary responses in government. The GOP can not neglect a growing population of voters in the country who identify with themselves as "independents," cautious to pick a party on the grounds of recent inefficiency and distrust in Washington. However, Republicans must also hold onto their values, being careful not to let go of their basic principles and beliefs in the name of getting new voters. Republicans must learn to attract Independents by proving Republicans really are the party of fiscal responsibility and efficiency, while at the same time keeping the base energized and motivated to support candidates in 2014, 2015, 2016 and beyond.