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58% of GOP Primary Voters See Tea Party As A Plus for Republicans in 2012

While many Democrats, journalists, and establishment Republicans have been critical of the Tea Party, most Republicans think the grass roots smaller government movement will be a plus for their party in next year’s presidential race.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely GOP Primary voters believe the Tea Party will help Republicans in the 2012 presidential election. Just 22% say the group will hurt the GOP in the 2012 race, while eight percent (8%) say it will have no impact. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-two percent (72%) of likely Republican primary voters say when casting their primary vote, they favor a candidate who shares their views over one who has a better chance of winning. Just 22% say their primary vote is more likely to go to the candidate who has a better chance of winning.

Interestingly, those outside the Tea Party are more committed to finding a candidate who shares their views--67% of Tea Party members take that approach compared to 75% of non-members. That data contradicts a common story line that Tea Party members are interested in ideological purity while others are more practical in their considerations.

Seventy percent (70%) of all primary voters continue to agree with Mitt Romney’s assertion at a debate in June that any one of the Republican candidates would make a better president that Obama.  Twenty percent (20%) disagree.

Tea Party members are far more likely to agree with Romney than non-members are – by a 91% to 62% margin.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of all likely Republican primary voters say they will vote for the GOP candidate on Election Day next year even if their favorite candidate does not win the party’s presidential nomination. Ten percent (10%) say they will vote for President Obama if their favorite isn’t the Republican nominee, and nine percent (9%) will opt for a third party candidate instead.

This is good news for Republicans compared to last November when roughly one-quarter to one-third of primary voters said they would consider a third-party candidate if any of the favorites at the time won the party’s 2012 nomination.

Again, those in the Tea Party are more committed to the GOP field than other primary voters. Ninety-one percent (91%) of Tea Party members now plan to vote for the eventual GOP candidate even if their first choice isn’t the nominee, compared to 71% of non-members.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely GOP Primary Voters was conducted on August 15, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. Likely GOP Primary Voters include both Republicans and unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a GOP Primary. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC . See methodology.

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