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: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.
* 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. . . .