Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Party: They Are Who We Thought They Were

Recently efforts on the right have been made to make the Tea Party movement more mainstream- to present tea party activists not as ignorant racist Republicans, but as independents intellectually concerned about the direction of our nation.

Well, recently CBS News and the New York Times released their own poll of the tea parties- the largest sample size yet.

CBS News and the New York Times surveyed 1,580 adults, including 881 self-identified Tea Party supporters, to get a snapshot of the Tea Party movement.

. . .

Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. The vast majority of them -- 89 percent -- are white. Just one percent is black.

...Three in four are 45 years old or older, including 29 percent who are 65 plus. They are also more likely to be men (59 percent) than women (41 percent).

More than one in three (36 percent) hails from the South, far more than any other region. Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent from the northeast.

They are better educated than most Americans: 37 percent are college graduates, compared to 25 percent of Americans overall. They also have a higher-than-average household income, with 56 percent making more than $50,000 per year.

More than half (54 percent) identify as Republicans, and another 41 percent say they are independents. Just five percent call themselves Democrats, compared to 31 percent of adults nationwide.

Nearly three in four describe themselves as conservative, and 39 percent call themselves very conservative. Sixty percent say they always or usually vote Republican.

Beginning to get the picture?

This poll does make one distinct change from certain previous polls, specifically the previous CBS-NYT poll on the subject- education. In the February poll, the average teabagger was as likely as the general public to have a college degree; in the April poll, considerably more so. (Average income was also slightly higher in the April poll.)

So, let's compare numbers with the old poll and the new, and throw in the Daily Kos's poll of Republicans for good measure when applicable.


SOUTH: February poll 37%, April poll 36%, KOS GOP poll 42%
WEST: February poll 29%, April poll 25%, KOS GOP poll 25%
MIDWEST: February poll 19%, April poll 22%, KOS GOP poll 22%
NORTHEAST: February poll 16%, April poll 18%, KOS GOP poll 11%


WHITE: February poll 95%, April poll 89%, KOS GOP poll 89% (national proportion about 60%)

BY AGE: February poll 59% over 45, April poll 75% over 45, KOS GOP poll 70% over 45 (national proportion about 50%)

Do you notice the parallels?

The teabaggers ARE the Republican Party, and vice versa. (The poll shows 3/4 of teabaggers calling themselves conservative, and 60% saying they consistently vote Republican.)

With that in mind, consider some other datapoints from the new survey:

Fifty-three percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as "angry" about the way things are going in Washington, compared to 19 percent of Americans overall who say they are angry. (Note: that means teabaggers are about half of all the people who are "angry" about Washington for any reason whatever. - Kris)

. . .

Eighty-eight percent disapprove of President Obama's performance on the job, compared to 40 percent of Americans overall. While half of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's job performance, just seven percent of Tea Party supporters say he is doing a good job.

Asked to volunteer what they don't like about Mr. Obama, the top answer, offered by 19 percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don't like him. Eleven percent said he is turning the country more toward socialism, ten percent cited his health care reform efforts, and nine percent said he is dishonest.

Seventy-seven percent describe Mr. Obama as "very liberal," compared to 31 percent of Americans overall. Fifty-six percent say the president's policies favor the poor, compared to 27 percent of Americans overall. (Note: And why is this supposed to be a bad thing again? - Kris)

. . .

Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama administration.

. . .

Twenty-four percent of Tea Party supporters say it is sometimes justified to take violent action against the government. That compares to 16 percent of Americans overall who say violence against the government is sometimes justified.

. . .

An overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters, 84 percent, say the views of the Tea Party movement reflect the views of most Americans. But Americans overall disagree: Just 25 percent say the Tea Party movement reflects their beliefs, while 36 percent say it does not. (Note: As with all Republicans, the theme is this: if you disagree, then you're Not Really An American. - Kris)

. . .

Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Another 29 percent say they don't know. Twenty percent of Americans overall, one in five, believe the president was not born in the United States. (Note: The Daily KOS poll of Republicans showed almost identical numbers on the same question - Kris)

The poll also shows distinct animus towards non-whites, especially blacks. Considering some of the people who take an active role in organizing tea party protests, that shouldn't be surprising:

[Brian "Sonny"] Thomas is the founder and president of the Springboro Tea Party in southwest Ohio. He faces a misdemeanor charge after recently going to the home of the mother of his son, in violation of a protection order. The woman had previously told police that their son had returned from Thomas's home with bruises.

Thomas had already been in hot water, after he tweeted during a march in support of immigration reform: "Illegals everywhere today! So many spicks makes me feel like a speck. Grr. Where's my gun?"

Thomas's son, and the son's mother, are Hispanic.

. . .

The tweet wasn't the first evidence that Thomas may be unusually preoccupied with race. Among the links to the Springboro Tea Party site is one to a site called, which sells t-shirts expressing pride in various European ancestries. CNN found a picture on Thomas's MySpace page -- no longer available -- of him wearing a "white pride" t-shirt. The "White Pride" slogan is frequently used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Remember, that's not just a group of independent fringe people. As the polls show... that's the mainstream Republican Party- the old rich white folks trying to preserve their privilege and undermine or outright destroy the federal government.

And if anybody tells you different... don't believe it.


Celine said...

Well, y'know, we did enshrine the idea of violence against the government in the Declaration of Independence. But unless these guys are in fact prepared to engage in a full-blown revolutionary coup attempt, against a government MUCH better armed and prepared than they are (weapons parity was much closer in the 1700s than it is today), and with the majority of the citizens AGAINST them, they're just blowing smoke.

Kris Overstreet said...

You leave out two facts:

(1) In the original American Revolution, there was an ocean between us and the regime we rebelled against (Tory militia and Canada notwithstanding).

(2) The philosophical, and in most cases literal, ancestors of the modern tea party people DID try a revolution... in 1861. They lost the war, but they won the peace up until the 1950s. They might just think it worth trying again... and where is the spine on the left to stop them if they do?