Monica Crowley was eager to change the subject on The O'Reilly Factor last night when Alan Colmes brought up the naked racism of Tom Tancredo's Tea Party Convention speech, so she launched into a defense of the Tea Parties with facts and information seemingly taken straight from her posterior:
Crowley: Look, the Tea Party movement is a massive grass-roots movement. It is based on legitimate concerns about out-of-control spending, high taxes --
O'Reilly: But to address Colmes' point, that the way they presented themselves, in Colmes' opinion, helped President Obama.
Crowley: No, absolutely not. I'll tell you why. Um, President Obama doesn't seem to be listening to what the Tea Party -- and it's not just the Tea Party movement.
Remember, a big majority of the Tea Party movement are made up of conservatives. But you have a number of -- and a huge number of mainstream moderate Democrats in this movement, and a huge number of independents --
O'Reilly: Libertarians, OK. So you -- was it a neutral? Was the Tea Party neutral toward President Obama? Did it hurt him? Did it help him?
Crowley: Bill, I think -- no, no, actually, I think it hurts Obama. It hurts Obama because they've got the mainstream message. The majority of Americans now are siding with the Tea Party movement on the issues of spending deficits and debt.
A huge number of Democrats? I haven't seen any polls showing anything more than insignificant number of Democrats joining the Tea Parties -- in no small part because their rallies are endless and vicious rants against Democrats and liberals. It's possible Crowley has data to back up her claim, but count me among the doubters, given my experience at Tea Party events, which are uniformly right-wing affairs.
Crowley's claims about the Tea Parties' supposed popularity doesn't exactly match what voters actually think, according to a new Rasmussen poll:
Days after Sarah Palin headlined the nation's first Tea Party convention, a Rasmussen Reports poll released today shows that a generic "Tea Party candidate" would come in third in a theoretical three-way congressional contest.
The poll found that 36% of voters would support a Democratic candidate on a generic ballot, 25% would back the Republican and 17% would go for the Tea Party pick. Twenty-three percent of respondents are undecided.
In early December, the same poll showed the Tea Party in second place and the GOP in third. Unchanged between the polls, according to Rasmussen, is that 41% of voters have a favorable view of the conservative movement.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken Feb. 7-8, just after the national Tea Party convention in Nashville. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
It's possible the public agrees with the Tea Partiers on a couple of issues. But overall the movement is turning them off, because it's not just full of nutcases, it's being led by them.