Romney and the Tea Party

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 24 2011 9:18 AM

Romney and the Tea Party

Chris Cillizza looks at the new Pew Poll that has Mitt Romney running slightly better with Tea Party supporters than regular Republicans, right after a Washington Post poll that has him strong with conservatives.

The Pew and Post results — coming so close to one another — seem to make clear that Romney, who has largely been cast as an establishment pick, has wider reach within the party than first imagined. It’s not entirely clear where Romney’s power among tea party activists originates, although his strong fiscal conservatism likely endears him to that bloc of voters.

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Could it be that Romney has been trying to blunt his disadvantage on the Massachusetts health care law by denouncing the Affordable Care Act with more fanfare than other Repubicans? Maybe. It's hard to read the minds of the 249 people in the poll who "agree with the Tea Party." Alternative explanation: Romney gets 24 percent from Tea Party supporters in a 10-way field, so 76 percent of them are looking for a candidate other than the well-funded guy who polls best against Obama. Thirty-one percent of Tea Partiers like Huckabee or Palin, who may not run, and 13 percent of them like Ron Paul. The anti-Romney vote is as massive as ever.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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