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Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 in Politics | 1 comment

Tea Party Losing Steam? Snowe’s Re-Election Now Looking Safer

Is the Tea Party starting to lose some steam? A new poll from Public Policy Polling indicates Maine’s Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s re-election prospects are looking brighter:

Olympia Snowe’s prospects for winning the Republican nomination for another term as Senator from Maine are looking the best they have in two years, in what could be a sign of Tea Party fever dwindling.

In October of 2009 only 31% of Maine GOP voters stood with Snowe, while 59% wanted to replace her with someone more conservative. In September of 2010, only 29% of Maine GOP voters stood with Snowe, while 63% wanted to replace her with someone more conservative. In March of this year, only 33% of Maine GOP voters stood with Snowe, while 58% wanted to replace her with someone more conservative. After all three of those polls I thought Snowe’s prospects for renomination were pretty much shot. But over the last seven months there’s been a major transformation, and now 46% of primary voters in the state stand with Snowe compared to only 47% who want to replace her from the right.

Snowe’s approval rating with GOP primary voters is up from 47/44 in March to now 51/37. She’s pretty steady with voters describing themselves as ‘somewhat conservative’ and her popularity has actually declined a little bit with moderates. But she’s done a better job over the last half year of wooing the far right voters who classify themselves as being ‘very conservative.’ They still don’t like her but she’s improved 23 points on the margin with them from -47 (21/68) to -24 (29/53).

Beyond the fact that she’s improved her standing with the far right, she’s also benefiting from the fact that the Tea Party just isn’t that strong in Maine these days. Only 21% of Republican primary voters in the state identify as members of that movement. They want to replace Snowe with someone more conservative by an 80-16 margin…but they’re pretty much drowned out by the rest of the GOP electorate supporting Snowe 58-36. That Tea Party base just doesn’t appear to be as large as it used to be.

Tested against her actual primary opponents Snowe gets 62% to 10% for Scott D’Amboise and 7% for Andrew Ian Dodge with 20% undecided.

Still the future doesn’t look bright for anyone who even falls under a broad definition of a moderate Republican. But — another “still” — if Snowe survives it means RINOs are not totally extinct in the GOP.

I’ve noted elsewhere what I have found as I do a 9 month tour the United States. During the past few weeks I was in the Northeast (up as far as New Hampshire) and met a LOT of people who said they had been loyal Republicans, don’t like the Democrats but they are turned off by the current incarnation of a)the Tea Party b)Republican Presidential candidates. Most suggested they had stuck with the GOP but have become disillusioned with the Tea Part and the current crop of Republican Presidential nominee wannabes. This could be limited to the Northeast. But some of these former and current Republicans said they liked Mitt Romney in his OLD incarnation. (If they wait a while he could always change back.)