Just under half of all Republicans say they identify with the Tea Party in the latest Economist/YouGov poll — and they are far more attentive about the coming election, and far more enthusiastic about a candidate than their non-Tea Party GOP brethren. In addition, they have slightly different choices for their party’s 2012 nomination.
Among all Republicans, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann are in a close race for the GOP nomination (a rise in Bachmann support from two weeks ago). Two unannounced contenders, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin are in third and fourth place. No other candidate reaches double digits.
But the base of support for the two frontrunners is different: Bachmann leads among Tea Partiers (though Romney comes in second), while Romney leads Bachmann with Republicans who do not call themselves part of the Tea Party. Perry and Palin run equally well with the two groups; businessman Herman Cain has strength with Tea Party identifiers.
If you had to choose one, which of these individuals would you want to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012?
But the Tea Party group may have two advantages: they are more attentive to the process at this point in time (months from the first nominating event) and nearly twice as many are enthusiastic about at least one of the GOP options. Attentiveness and enthusiasm may help promote turnout in those primary and caucus events next year.
Democrats are a near match for the Tea Party Republicans in their enthusiasm for Barack Obama’s re-election. 73% of Democrats are enthusiastic about the President running for re-election.
And the President maintains double-digit leads over the two potential rivals asked about in this poll — including leaners, he is ahead of Michele Bachmann among registered voters 51% to 39%, and would defeat Sarah Palin by an even greater margin, 54% to 34%. Of course the 2012 general election is more than a year away!
Photo source: Press Association