Chart of the Day: Utah’s Incredible Shrinking Tea Party

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For Utah tea partiers, the last several years have been aces.

On Tuesday, Politico published a story on the rising influence of freshman Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), calling him a “must-see for GOP candidates hoping to channel the energy of the tea party movement.” And for months, the same groups that ousted three-term conservative Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in a state convention last year—paving the way for their favored candidate Lee—have had their crosshairs set on Sen. Orrin Hatch, with the thought of drafting tea party favorite Rep. Jason Chaffetz to take his place. Movement leaders have also talked of ousting Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, along with state legislators who supported a recently passed guest-worker law.

Life is good if you’re a tea party Republican from Utah. With all that momentum, there’s little reason to doubt the the movement’s long-term viability in the Beehive State. Right?

Well, no. A recent poll conducted by Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy shows that overall support for the tea party in Utah has dropped from 53 percent during last year’s elections to 46 percent in April. A closer look at the numbers, though, shows that while overall and independent support for the movement has eroded, diehard Republicans are even more committed than before:

Among independent voters, support for the tea party has plummeted by nearly fifty percent, potentially helping moderate Democrats. But for “strong Republicans,” support for the tea party climbed from 76 to 82 percent. The poll issues a clear warning for candidates like Chaffetz, Hatch—and, down the road, even Lee—who hope a hard push to the right will secure their political futures.

The takeaway: as the tea party continues to consolidate its support among Republicans, independents (i.e., the voters who end up deciding elections) are drifting away in increasing numbers. Whether this trend continues taking hold in Utah—the heart of the conservative heartland—could be a bellwether for its national viability.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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