With the, and a on the horizon, conservative activists in the tea party have been pushing Republicans to drive a hard bargain in the ongoing budget negotiations.
According to a new poll from Gallup, however, the tea party itself is flirting with record low popularity numbers, conceivably giving the ultraconservative bloc less clout as Congress works its way through the fiscal thicket.
Only 22 percent of respondents describe themselves as supporters of the tea party in Gallup's latest poll - a number that nearly matches the record low 21 percent of Americans who described themselves as tea party supporters in a similar poll at the end of 2011. By contrast, toward the end of 2010, 32 percent of Americans described themselves as supporters of the tea party.
The results are predictably divided by party: A majority of Democrats describe themselves as opponents of the tea party, while only 6 percent describe themselves as supporters. Among Republicans, 38 percent support the tea party, while 7 percent are opposed.
Despite the generally favorable attitude among Republicans toward the tea party, it's not clear that the conservative activists are returning the love: Only 55 percent of self-described tea party supporters hold a favorable view of the GOP, while 43 percent hold an unfavorable view.
Gallup's poll surveyed 1,510 adults nationwide between September 5 and 8, carrying margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.