Poll Of Tea Party Activists And Supporters Reveal Things We Know And Things We Believed

Ken AshfordPolls, Tea PartyLeave a Comment

And speaking of polls, Digby has a nice summary of the VERY comprehensive poll of teabaggers conducted by the New York Times and CBS, both of whom have excellent write-ups of their own (with graphics, etc.).  The bottom line is that they are pretty much what you think they are — Republicans, except they're a bit angrier and a bit more racist and a bit more to the right.  CBS:

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

They tend to skew older: 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.


Nearly three in four describe themselves as conservative, and 39 percent call themselves very conservative. Sixty percent say they always or usually vote Republican. Forty percent say the United States needs a third party, while 52 percent say it does not.


Nothing too surprising in any of that so far. 

But a couple of things stand out. 

They love their guns. More than half — 58 percent — keep a gun in the household.

They're ego-centric:

Regardless of your overall opinion, do you think the views of the people in the tea party movement generally reflect the views of most Americans?

84% of the self-identified teabaggers said yes. Only 25% of the general public agreed.

Of course, they live in a self-imposed bubble (aided by Fox news), so it's not surprising.

What's more, they are ill-informed:

Where are they getting their information? 63% of them get their TV news from FOX. 53% believe that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are news shows.

And many of them don't even think about the things they think about.  Writes the New York Times:

And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

Okay, well get back to us when you figure out what you want.

Another example of how they don't think about what they think about? 

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.

Riiight.  Because they can't say "skin color" and they know it.

UPDATE:  Steven Benen notes more contradictions, writing:

If you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you'd only see one circle.

These folks claim to be motivated by concerns over taxes, but Tea Partiers tend not to know anything about the subject. They claim to be angry about the Affordable Care Act, but they don't know what's in it. They claim to hate expensive government programs, except for all the expensive government programs that benefit them and their families.

It's inherently challenging to create a lasting, successful political movement predicated on literally nothing more than ignorance and rage. In the case of Tea Partiers, we're talking about a reasonably large group of people who seem to revel in their own ignorance, but nevertheless seek an active role in the process.

and Jed Lewison notes:

According to a new poll from CBS and the New York Times, 92% of tea partiers are scared that America is moving towards socialism — but in a strange twist, most of them seem to like it.

Despite the fear that socialism is coming to America, 62% of tea party supporters also support Social Security and Medicare. In fact, nearly half of them either benefit from Social Security or Medicare or have somebody in their immediate family who does. And about one-third are directly beneficiaries at least one of the programs, compared to about one-fifth of the population at large.

And CBS News notes that the majority of Tea Party supporters (18% of Americans are Tea Party supporters, according to the poll) say "their taxes are fair".  Now that's really odd, considering that the "Tea" in "Tea Party" stands for "Taxed Enough Already".

Read the Complete Poll on Tea Party Members (PDF)
Read the Complete Poll on What Tea Partiers Believe (PDF)