10 questions with pollster and ‘Mad As Hell’ author Douglas Schoen

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Douglas Schoen and Scott Rasmussen are the authors of the new book, “Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our-Two-Party System.” Rasmussen is an independent pollster and founder of Rasmussen Reports while Schoen co-founded the polling firm Penn, Schoen, and Berland and is a Fox News contributor.

Schoen, who identifies himself as a moderate Democrat, recently agreed to answer 10 questions for The Daily Caller about his new book:

1.  Why did you both write the book?

We wrote the book because felt that the Tea Party movement had been misunderstood and that its influence on American society not fully recognized.

2.  What do you think is the motivating force behind the Tea Party?

The motivating force behind the Tea Party movement is a desire to return government to the people, fiscal discipline, lowering taxes, lowering spending, and reducing the power of special interests.

3.  If the economy improves, does the Tea Party go away?

I do not think the Tea Party movement would go away if the economy improved. There is too much dysfunctionality in Washington, too much desire for change in the electorate, and there is no evidence that the parties will get together to address the demands of the Tea Party movement: smaller government, return to core principles, and fiscal discipline.

4.  What is your prediction for November? Will the Republicans take the House and/or Senate? How many seats do you think they can win in each chamber?

I believe the Republicans are poised to take the House, and are in a position to be very competitive in the Senate. I think that the Republicans will win 45 to 50 seats in the House, and 7 to 9 seats in the Senate.

5.  Is the Tea Party movement powerful enough to outlast 2010 and make President Obama a one-term president?

The Tea Party movement is certainly strong enough. It will outlast the 2010 election, and will have its impact felt both in the primaries and general elections in 2012.

6.  Who do you think would be the best Republican candidate to challenge Obama in 2012?

I do not know now who the best candidate to challenge President Obama is. I can tell you that just based on this year’s primary season, the strongest candidate in the Republican primaries will almost certainly be Sarah Palin.

7.  What was the most surprising thing or piece of data you discovered while writing and doing the research for this book?

The most surprising piece of data discovered after doing our research is that the single most powerful force in American politics is the Tea Party movement. Somewhere between 30% and 40% of its supporters are non-Republicans and the movement’s level of favorability has frequently matched that of the Democrats and Republicans — despite the fact that there was no Tea Party at this time 2 years ago.

NEXT: Does Schoen think the Tea Party is full of racists?
8.  Some on the left have accused the Tea Party of being simply a movement of racists and bigots. What do you think about that narrative?

There is no evidence to suggest that the Tea Party movement is in any way made up of racists and bigots. That is just a canard. It is unfair, it is unreasonable, and it is untrue. The vast majority of Tea Party supporters are people who are committed to fiscal issues and have minimized the importance of any social issues, and certainly race or racial prejudice has nothing to do with it.

9.  How is, as the subtitle of your book reads, the Tea Party movement fundamentally remaking our two-party system?

The Tea Party movement is fundamentally remaking our political system because they have demonstrated a superior degree of influence and impact on Republican primaries, they have demonstrated clear power in public opinion polls and in general elections, and the spontaneous broad based grassroots movement that is as powerful as any force in America. Put simply, the Tea Party Movement can mobilize more people, more compellingly, than either the Democrats or Republicans.

10.  Any plans to write another book? If so, about what?

I certainly would be thrilled to collaborate on another book with Scott Rasmussen, particularly focusing on the disconnect between the political elites in Washington and the attitudes of grassroots, ordinary Americans.