Supporters of the tea party in Oregon will be back in Pioneer Courthouse Square this Friday, April 15 for what's become their annual tax day protest. (U.S. taxpayers this year actually have until Monday, April 18 this year to file because of an unusual circumstance.)Organizers of this year’s tea party’s protest starting at 5:30 pm in Portland don’t know what to expect when it comes to turnout.
“The tea party is entering into a new phase in politics,” says Jeff Reynolds, chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party and protest organizer. “The movement is more involved in party process, campaigns and legislation. I’m not sure what to expect on Friday.”
In the 2010 election, the tea party established itself as
a political force by electing 87 freshmen with some affiliation to the movement. But that wasn't the case in Oregon's congressional elections.
“Electorally they were fairly insignificant,” said Jim Moore, professor of political science at Pacific University. “When you look at the tea party in Oregon’s last election, they didn’t do diddly.
“The tea party is very fractured," Moore says. "It is not a political party per se; it is more of a big banner that people on the right say they are a part of. If you ask 16 people about an issue at a rally you could get 16 different answers.”
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll from late March, 47 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of the tea party, a figure that has increased sharply in the last 15 months.
“If you ask voters if they are in favor of cuts in government spending you get really big numbers in support,” said Chris Shortell, an assistant professor of political science at Portland State University. “But if you ask if the government should cut Medicare or Social Security, the general amorphous support for spending cuts starts to diminish dramatically.”