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Tea Party popularity plummets

The last several weeks have taken a severe toll on the GOP's standing, but the American mainstream is also starting to turn against the Tea Party in particular.
But it's not just the party overall that's suffering -- support for a specific right-wing subset of the party is in free fall, too. The Pew Research Center published these results this afternoon.

The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49%) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30% have a favorable opinion. The balance of opinion toward the Tea Party has turned more negative since June, when 37% viewed it favorably and 45% had an unfavorable opinion. And the Tea Party's image is much more negative today than it was three years ago, shortly after it emerged as a conservative protest movement against Barack Obama's policies on health care and the economy.

Unfavorable ratings for the Tea Party have doubled since February 2010. As political "movements" go, this one isn't gaining favor over time; it's losing it.
What's more, the drop in support is across the board -- self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and independents have all turned against the Tea Party in greater numbers, with the poll showing a sharp drop. Of particular interest is the shift from within the GOP: "In the current survey, just 27% of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable impression of the Tea Party, down from 46% in June."
Finally, the Pew results also help shed light on the party's larger strategy, which has been on display in Washington over the last few weeks. Among Republican voters who don't identify as part of the Tea Party, a plurality believe the GOP has not compromised enough with congressional Democrats. Among Tea Party Republicans, 50% believe GOP lawmakers have already compromised too much.
It's an alternate universe, to be sure, but which faction of the party has been calling many of the shots lately?