Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Party profile














Thanks to a New York Times and CBS News poll, we now have a better idea of just who the anti-Obama, populist Tea Partiers are. There are surprises here for everyone, but maybe not a lot of surprises.


First, 18% of those surveyed in the poll consider themselves Tea Party supporters (question 82). The poll helpfully juxtaposes their responses to poll questions with those of the general population surveyed.

A lid can finally be put on the assurances by some credulous bloggers and journalists that African Americans are a significant sector in their ranks. The poll reveals that a whopping 1% of Tea Party supporters identify themselves as African American (page 41).


Speaking of small percentages, 2% of the self-identified Tea Party supporters had heard or read nothing about the movement they support (q.78), and 1% had an unfavourable view of their own movement, with a further 9% undecided (q.79).

30% of the Tea Party supporters believe that Barack Obama was born in another country, with a further 29% indicating that they didn't know (q.50). 92% think Obama is moving the country towards ""socialism" (q.49).

53% of the Tea Partiers consider Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity to be a source of hard news--more than twice the general population (q.96). 63% claim Fox News as their chief news source (q.93).

31% are armed--about 50% more than the over-all population (q.104).
28% support the nativist extremist Ron Paul (q.37). 53% define themselves as "angry" (q.24).

Only 18% of those identified as Tea Party supporters have actually attended rallies (q.84). One should be careful, therefore, to distinguish between the two "pools," given the self-selection bias involved when the more militant members of a group form themselves into a sub-group. One might expect, for example, to find a higher percentage of "angry" Tea Partiers on the streets. And, judging from the signs above and the gentleman below, more armed activists as well.





















Is any of this a cause for alarm? Tea Partiers comprise less than one-fifth of the voters. Besides, they're more educated and better off than the general population (page 41), think their tax burden is "fair" (q.76), send their kids to public schools (q.108), and don't think Sarah Palin is qualified to be President (q.39), although they like her (q.40). But the findings above are worrying nonetheless.

Tea Partiers, motivated to a considerable extent by ideology, are living in a dreamworld if not a closed delusional system, reinforced by their extremist news sources. 84% of them think their views are shared by most Americans, but only 25% of the over-all sample believe that--a pretty good indication of what "most Americans" feel. They are angry, white, a third of them are armed, and only a minority believe that their African American President was born in the US.

Do they have critical mass for regime change? Angry anti-government nativism at almost the same level is alarming Europeans at present, as they watch the goings-on in Hungary. It's far too soon to say that it can't happen here.

UPDATE: And the counter-reformation begins:

Alabama attorney John Eidsmoe, who has spoken previously to white supremacists, withdrew from a tea party rally in Wausau, Wis., after organizers questioned his views. Coordinators of a tax-day rally in Pleasanton, Calif., rescinded the speaking invitation of Orly Taitz, an attorney who has filed lawsuits claiming Obama was not born in the U.S. and is ineligible to be president.

Who
invited Eidsmoe and Taitz in the first place? Never mind. Perhaps the quest for respectability may be all that's needed to kill this movement off.

[H/t Left on Lanier]

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