Monday, April 5, 2010

Is the Tea Party "Mainstream"?

Recently, participants in the Tea Party as well as pollsters and pundits have attempted to describe the movement as "mainstream."  If the Tea Party movement organized to "protest" the center of political power in the US, then the effort to "mainstream" the organization seems counterintuitive. Holding aside this contradiction, I am intrigued by Greg Sargent's analysis in the Plum Line. Sargent seeks to debunk recent polls and commentary that portray the average Tea Party participant as the person next door. According to Sargent, this is only true if nearly 9/10 of your neighbors are white conservative Republicans or Independents. Here is a snip:
Folks pushing the idea that the Tea Party is mainstream and bipartisan are seizing on this headline from The Hill over the weekend:

Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party members are Dems or independents

Turns out, though, that this story is about a poll released last week by a Republican-leaning firm that found 57% of Tea Partiers are self-identified Republicans, 28% are independent and 13% are Dems. So yeah, 41% are either indy or Dem, with Dems making up a small majority of that group.

But a total of 85% are either Republican or independent. Given that experts say the ranks of independents are swollen these days with defectors from the GOP, these numbers suggest the Tea Party crowd tilts overwhelmingly to the right.
The new Gallup poll illustrates this even more starkly. The 28% of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters break down this way:

* Forty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters are Republicans, 43% are independents, and only eight percent are Dems. That means a huge majority — 92% — are Republicans or indys, and again, many of those indys could be former Republicans or lean GOP anyway.

* Seventy percent of Tea Party supporters say they’re conservative, and only 22% say they’re moderate. And who knows what they even mean by that word to begin with.

* A whopping 79% of Tea Party supporters are non-hispanic whites. Only 65% of Americans were non-hispanic whites as of 2008. . . .
If the Tea Party wants to protest mainstream politics, it is unclear how the mainstream label helps the organization. It is also doubtful that the label accurately describes the group.


Matt P. said...

They are certainly much more mainstream than they are racist/violent and that was the outrageous media spin (which you added to) of a few weeks ago. So yes it helps them.

David said...

Sad to see this kind of biased, false, smear-based article from a formerly sober and fairly even-handed blogger. Very disappointing.

Here's the actual results of the poll, without your biased commentary.

Tea Party 18-29 year olds - 16%
All Americans - 17%

Tea Party 30-40 - 34%
All Americans - 36%

TP 50-60 - 29%
All Americans - 27%

TP 65+ - 21%
All Americans - 20%

TP no college - 34%
All Americans no college - 35%

TP some college - 34%
All Americans no college - 32%

TP college grad - 16%
All Americans college grad - 17%

TP advanced degree - 15%
All Americans advanced degree - 16%

TP employed full-time - 49%
All Americans - 47%

TP part time workers - 6%
All Americans - 8%

TP retired - 24%
All Americans - 23%

TP housewives - 9%
All Americans - 7%

TP student - 4%
All Americans - 3%

TP non-Hispanic white - 79%
All Americans - 75%

TP black - 6%
All Americans - 11%

TP other race/ethnicity - 15%
All Americans - 15%

TP independents - 43%
All Americans - 40%

Sad to see this spin attempt from a formerly respected blog. I won't be visting again until this goes back to being a place for even-handed, fair commentary like it used to be.

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