The poll suggests that the partnership between the Tea Party and the Republican Party may be waning. Although some of the Tea Party's most visible representatives in politics today are associated with the Republican Party, and while rank-and-file Republicans are more likely to call themselves supporters than opponents of the Tea Party movement -- a far greater number identify as neither.
To be sure, this is much more positive than Democrats' views of the Tea Party, with a majority describing themselves as opponents of the political movement. However, it is also far less supportive than three years ago, when two-thirds of Republicans identified as Tea Party supporters.
Similarly, just as Republicans are mixed in their views of the Tea Party, Tea Party supporters themselves have mixed views about the Republican Party: 55% hold a favorable view of it and 43% an unfavorable view. This contrasts with the highly positive views toward the GOP expressed by Republicans, with 79% rating it favorably, and 19% unfavorably. Tea Party supporters and Republicans are aligned however, in their broadly unfavorable reaction to the Democratic Party.
The signs of a crack-up in the GOP are all there, and the outcome of the shutdown nonsense is shaping up to be a total disaster for the Republican brand. The opportunity for the Democrats is huge if they play their cards right.