Tea Party Express chief political strategist Sal Russo emailed me this morning with this good news from Rasmussen:

Rasmussen Poll

46% Say Tea Party Good for America, 31% Disagree

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Forty-six percent (46%) of U.S. voters say the Tea Party movement is good for the country, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree and say it’s bad for the country. Another 13% say it’s neither.

But just 16% of voters say they are actually members of the so-called Tea Party, a loose knit group of Americans nationwide protesting big government and high taxes. This is down eight points from a month ago and but little changed from two months ago.  The spike in identification with the Tea Party followed passage of the health care law. Most voters continue to favor repeal of that law.

Nine percent (9%) now say that they are not members of the Tea Party but have close friends or family members who are. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they have no ties whatsoever to the movement.

The Tea Party is definitely not a Political Class phenomenon, though.  Not a single Political Class respondent in the survey said they’re a member of the Tea Party, but five percent (5%) confessed that they have close friends or relatives who are.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of the Political Class say the Tea Party is bad for America. Two-thirds (66%) of Mainstream Americans see it as a good thing for the country. However, it’s important to note that only a little more than half of all Mainstream voters consider themselves to be part of the Tea Party movement.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 28-29, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. 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.

Forty-one percent (41%) of all voters have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, while 35% view it unfavorably. Twenty-three percent (23%) are undecided. These numbers are little changed from March.

In April of last year, however, after the first “tea parties” were held on Tax Day, 51% of Americans had a favorable view of those gatherings, including 32% who said their view of the events was Very Favorable.

Male voters are more likely than female voters to have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement. Forty-eight percent (48%) of white voters view the movement favorably, while 69% of African-Americans have an unfavorable opinion.

While the Tea Party efforts generally claim no partisan affiliation, there is clearly a partisan edge to the movement. Seventy percent (70%) of Republicans look on the Tea Party movement favorably while 66% of Democrats hold an unfavorable opinion of it. As for those not affiliated with either major party, 45% offer a positive view while 28% voice a negative opinion of the Tea Party.

Twenty-seven percent (27%) of voters nationwide say they are at least somewhat likely to attend a Tea Party rally. That includes eight percent (8%) who say they are Very Likely to do so. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say their attendance at such a rally is unlikely, including 37% who say it is Not At All Likely.

But the Tea Party movement defies easy description. Rasmussen Reports surveying, however, provides some glimpses into the movement, including the overwhelming beliefs among its members that the federal government is a special interest group and that government and big business work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.

When it comes to major issues confronting the nation, 48% of voters say the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than President Obama is. Forty-four percent (44%) hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own.

Fifty-two percent (52%) believe the average member of the Tea Party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress.

Thirty-five percent (35%) of voters now think Republicans and Democrats are so much alike that an entirely new political party is needed to represent the American people.  Nearly half (47%) of voters disagree and say a new party is not needed

If the Tea Party was organized as a political party, 34% of voters would prefer a Democrat in a three-way congressional race. In that hypothetical match-up, the Republican gets 27% of the vote with the Tea Party hopeful in third at 21%. But if only the Democrat or Republican had a real chance to win, most of the Tea Party supporters would vote for the Republican.

Tea Party unhappiness with incumbents and the traditional two parties is already playing a key role in several contests around the country including the Texas governor’s race and Senate races in Florida, Kentucky and Utah.