Tea Party favorability in Florida far lower than national average, study finds

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A new study by HaystaqDNA looked to see whether areas of the U.S. where people think most favorably of the “tea party” tend to select Republican candidates who are less “establishment” and more considered part of the tea party wing.

What they found is interesting, especially as it relates to tossup U.S. Senate seats. In short: the establishment has lost only one seat so far — that of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor — while key races in southern states appear to be going in the other direction.

HaystaqDNA suggests that states with the highest tea party favorability scores are in the West rather than in the South; and that the elections that will ultimately decide control of the Senate in 2014 are less likely to be impacted by tea party wing candidates.

Overall, about 39 percent of Americans have a somewhat or strongly favorable opinion of the tea party, while 61 percent have a neutral, somewhat unfavorable, or strongly unfavorable view of the tea party. Among those who report having a strong opinion of the tea party one way or another, 60 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 40 have a favorable opinion.

In Florida, however, tea party sentiment appears to be on the lower end of favorability compared to the nation as a whole.

HaystaqDNA mapped tea party favorability by county, shading those areas with the greatest support in dark red. Florida’s map, however, shows that there isn’t one county in the state where greater than 50 percent of respondents feel favorably toward the tea party.

Florida counties with the highest tea party favorability ratings are Okaloosa, at 47.3 percent, Sumter, at 46.8 percent, and Santa Rosa, at 46.7 percent.

Broward County rings in with the lowest tea party favorability ratings in South Florida, at 28.6 percent, followed by Palm Beach (31.5 percent), and St. Lucie (32.1 percent). That said, the Big Bend area has the lowest overall tea party approval: Gadsden County has the state’s lowest percent tea party enthusiasts at 24 percent, followed by Jefferson (29.3 percent), Leon (30 percent), and Madison (30.3 percent). Alachua County matches Madison at 30.3 percent, too.

Looking now at the often foretelling I-4 corridor, tea party favorability ratings fall consistently in the 40 percent range: Pinellas (35.9 percent), Hillsborough (37 percent), Pasco (40 percent), Polk (40.7 percent), Osceola (37.3 percent), Lake (42.1 percent), Orange (36.3 percent), Brevard (41.8 percent), Volusia (39.5 percent), and Seminole (38.2 percent).

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.