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Posted by on Jan 5, 2010 in Politics | 6 comments

Sign of the Times

Others have probably written about this topic already, and I missed it because I was (until this morning) suffering from a severe case of holiday fog. In case you have also been a victim of said fog, David Brooks tosses a spotlight on the following in his column today.

The tea party movement is … now more popular than either major party. According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 41 percent of Americans have a positive view of the tea party movement. Only 35 percent of Americans have a positive view of the Democrats and only 28 percent have a positive view of the Republican Party.

The movement is especially popular among independents. The Rasmussen organization asked independent voters whom they would support in a generic election between a Democrat, a Republican and a tea party candidate. The tea party candidate won, with 33 percent of independents. Undecided came in second with 30 percent. The Democrats came in third with 25 percent and the Republicans fourth with 12 percent.

While the tea partiers will likely revel in those stats, they should note that, in the Rasmussen poll, undecided independents are trailing by only three points, a presumed statistical tie and potential spoiler in any election. Then again, as Brooks recognizes, the undecideds could just as easily break toward tea-party candidates, assuming one or more hypotheticals happen:

If there is a double-dip recession, a long period of stagnation, a fiscal crisis, a terrorist attack or some other major scandal or event, the country could demand total change, creating a vacuum that only the tea party movement and its inheritors would be in a position to fill.

Brooks clarifies that he is “not a fan” of the tea-party movement, but he believes it has “potential to shape the coming decade.”