Who Are the Tea Partiers?

National Review conducted a poll (subscription required) to find out what we all know about the tea party movement. First of all, Americans think well of the movement. McLaughlin and Associates asked respondents whether the tea parties represented an angry fringe or consisted of “citizens concerned about the country’s economic future.” 57% chose the latter, and only 19% chose the former — that 19% covering, one supposes, Democrat operatives and the mainstream media.
Another interesting factor that should surprise no-one is that tea partiers are not the anti-government extremists that some suggest, but run-of-the-mill right-of-center citizens frustrated enough to finally become active in politics:

Most tea-party sympathizers, [in contrast to Ross Perot independents], are pro-life. They are more pro-life than the electorate as a whole, although less so than Republicans. Their religious practices are roughly in line with those of the electorate. Tea-party participants, meanwhile, are both more pro-life and more frequent churchgoers than the electorate. Social issues may not be what binds the tea partiers together or what matters most to them, but social issues are not going to drive a wedge between them and Republicans.
Tea-party supporters are concerned about the deficit, but not to the exclusion of other issues. They don’t want to cut the defense budget. A small, 52 percent majority of them believes we “should cut taxes to stimulate growth” while only 37 percent say that the deficit makes tax cuts unaffordable (and a tiny 7 percent want tax increases to reduce the deficit).
The tea partiers are often said to be populists hostile to Wall Street and big business. But while they clearly oppose bailouts of financial firms, their antipathy may not go much farther than that. McLaughlin asked likely voters whether they think that “we should impose a new tax on banks because they have benefited so much from bailouts and need to be reined in,” or that “bank customers would end up paying the tax and the economy would suffer.” The anti-taxers were a majority in the poll (52-38 percent), and both tea-party participants and tea-party sympathizers were even more strongly on the anti-tax side. In McLaughlin’s poll, a majority of likely voters want to cut taxes on corporations. Tea partiers were especially likely to agree.

One caution that the poll highlights is that third-party, tea-party candidates will tend to split the electorate and help the Democrats. As NR’s Ramesh Ponnuru and Kate O’Beirne suggest, this means that Republicans should consider tea partiers to be ideologically determined and move in their direction, rather than hoping that they’ll choose the least worst option. Electoral evidence has already been mounting that they won’t; the GOP must do the courting, which is to say, return to its own integrity.

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right_of_center
right_of_center
11 years ago

“but run-of-the-mill right-of-center citizens”
Woohoo! A shout out from Justin!

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

I’m curious about this poll and exactly how it was conducted. How large was the actual sample size vs. how many people were originally contacted for polling given that the tea party is a loosely organized movement and not a membership group.

Tara
Tara
11 years ago

“90% of the tea party members think taxes have gone up.
Only 2% of teabaggers thought taxes had gone down or stayed the same under Obama. In reality, 95% of working people saw their taxes go down.
So, only 2% of a group calling themselves tea partiers, named after a famous tax revolt – The Boston Tea Party – are right about taxes.”
Via Bill Maher

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

–“Only 2% of teabaggers thought taxes had gone down or stayed the same under Obama. In reality, 95% of working people saw their taxes go down.”
Taxes haven’t gone down for “working people” (however you define them), not when you factor the totality of taxes: federal / FICA, state and local … and for those of us not feeding off of the public trough, that totality is our reality.
Moreover, in the end, the tax burden is the reciprocal of budgets and deficits. The Obama – Democrat spending orgy, paid for with current taxes, debt / deficit spending and the interest payments required to service that debt, constitutes by far the most massive tax increase in American history, and probably in the history of the world.
A Weimar-like hyperinflation scenario for the U.S. is no longer inconceivable.
Finally, the Obama – Democrat push to expand the entitlement state, e.g., Obamacare / socialized medicine, bakes-in massive tax increases for future generations.
So let’s deal with reality, not Obama – Democrat campaign rhetoric, which belongs on the scrap heap of history alongside “transparency” and “we’ll televise the health care proceedings on CSPAN.”

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Tara, you can’t take a lie originated by the Democrats, that you sourced from one of the biggest liars this side of Michael Moore, and attempt to use it to smear the Tea Party. It makes you look ridiculous.
Not only have many taxes gone up already, but the federal government has laid out specific plans to massively increase existing or exact new taxes in its plans for the next fiscal year and beyond.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

You really can’t be quoting National Review and their poll? Can you?
Why not quote Sarah Palin wisdom or Fox news instead? After all, these are fair sources, aren’t they?
The sad fact is that the tea party has grown largely because of corporate money and power, specifically a lot of lobbyists, lawyers and vast corporations who have financed astroturf movements and web sites to make it look like a big revolution is talking place. Hey, ever hear of Dick Armey? Freedomworks? They are pro business PR and Lobbyist firms, populated by the same far righties who ruined the country during the Bush years.
But now you want to convince us that this is some kind of united party or movement? No way. I have a friend who went to many tea events in NY state because he was interested in what was wrong with the country. He told me he had never heard so many racists in his entire life. It’s not something they all say out loud, but what the people were saying to each other.
The tea party is a frankenstein of various groups- and, yes, there may be SOME well meaning people in it, but the same could probably be said of the John Birch Society (I’m sure many here are members) as well as the KKK and other such groups. There are many undercurrents in the tea party and the American people are starting to “get it”.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Stuart is speaking from complete ignorance of the facts of the organization and funding of the hundreds of Tea Parties around the country. And from that ignorance he is spreading malicious lies.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart exposes his phony side when he lumps in the KKK with the Tea Party groups and the John Birch Society.The John Birch society is open to people of all ethnicities and if Stuart ever looked at the makeup of the national speakers’ group of the John Birch Society he would see that.
The way leftists try to win a debate is to poison the waters by bringing up cretins like the KKK or Aryan Nations.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Sorry, taxes have gone DOWN at the Federal level along with MANY other tax cuts for small business, etc. In fact, 40% of the STIMULUS was tax cuts! Tea party folks are sure not informed well. I guess uninformed is the best description of “who are tea partiers”. As to state and local taxes……NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH…..Obama and the Federal government have virtually nothing to do with that! I think another definition of who the tea partiers are is simpletons. I don’t mean that in a negative way – just that they don’t understand the complex world we live in. They think voting out one a-hole and voting in another more clueless a-hole is going to fix taxes! That’s a pretty silly idea! Think about it! As to the tea parties being financed by big business, those are 100% FACTS. Sure, there are some who are not – but all the big stuff has been pushed by Fox News, Beck, Dick Armey, etc. Who do you think paid for steak and lobster dinner at the Tea Convention? Who paid for the brand new touring buses with the beautiful paint jobs? Burying your heads in the sand and not looking closely at these things is no excuse. Any REAL tea partier…and, as I said, there are a few, would disown ALL that corporate sponsorship. After all, the original tea party was AGAINST THE GIANT CORPORATIONS (east india company) and their hold on the citizens. Get a clue, folks! Please! “Tea Party Express is the name for a public relations blitz in 2009 via a cross-country caravan of buses and cars making 35 stops for rallies featured on conservative media. Tea Party Patriots (TPP) is a conservative group initially organized by Freedomworks, which was responsible for organizing the anti-healthcare reform town hall… Read more »

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

Stuart, if you’re done making stuff up whole cloth, here and under other comment threads, we can get down to brass tacks.
Principles of the Tea Party are smaller, more accountable government (including far less of the obscene spending that’s been going on for the last two years – we have to live within our individual budgets; why can’t government?) and a greater adherence by our government to Constitutional principles. Full stop.
Now, which of these goals do you object to and why?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Monique-why bother asking-he’s on a leftist talking points rant.
Undeterred by facts.

Tara
Tara
11 years ago

Monique,
I think the obscene spending has been going on for far longer than the last two years, lets not kid ourselves.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Smaller government? I heard the tea party approves of the defense spending. I have heard that the tea party approves of the status quo of corporate health care. Those two things are responsible for the vast government spending that the Tea Party claims to be against! Everyone wants to pay less in taxes. That is nothing new. What seems to be new is that the Tea Partiers were quite silent (90% plus of them) for all those years when their current leaders (Dick Armey and friends) were in charge. That seems hypocritical. BTW, I have been politically involved since the late 1960’s, so am fairly certain of what I speak. I was part of perhaps a tiny percentage of Americans against going into Iraq and Afghanistan and other such COSTLY foreign adventures. Unlike the tea party, I didn’t get my “religion” once a Democrat or a Black dude was elected. The Tea Party is about MUCH MORE than small government, at least in many states it is. That is why the party is splitting apart as more and more people see what a Frankenstein it has become. It’s always easy, my friends, to be against something. More importantly is what you are FOR and whether that is in the realm of reality. In other words, not a single talking point of the tea party would pass the math test. To be taken seriously, you have to actually have a plan that consists of more than talking points. At least libertarians are smart enough to understand that once people form into an official “party”, the end is near. Who would have thought, one year ago, that the Tea Party would have their convention in an upscale hotel and hire SARAH PALIN (worlds biggest stupe) for 115K to talk to people who… Read more »

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Hear, hear, Tara. Any movement ostensibly against “big government” but silent on the growth of the military is clearly being fueled by corporate faux populism, propaganda, and prejudice. As for the deficit’s cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda. Overall, changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem. For example, we estimate that the tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009. Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent—despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it. In 2010, the deficit would be 3.2 percent instead of 9.6 percent. The weak economy also plays a major role in the deficit picture. The failure of Bush economic policies—fiscal irresponsibility, regulatory indifference, fueling of an asset and credit bubble, a failure to focus on jobs and incomes, and inaction as the economy started slipping—contributed mightily to the nation’s current economic situation. When the economy contracts, tax revenues decline and outlays increase for programs designed to keep people from falling deep into poverty (with the tax impact much larger than the spending impact). All told, the weak economy is responsible for 20 percent of the fiscal problems we face in 2009 and 2010. President Obama’s policies have also contributed to the federal deficit—but only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

It appears that the tea party did not give many facts to their members. For instance, did they tell them Fed Income taxes are, in general, lower than they have been in 50 years? Lower than under their hero, Ronald Reagan? Lower than under Clinton and the 100% GOP Congress and Contract with America? I think not. As our friend above mentioned, the truth is lost on your talking points. I wish I could think that those in the tea party who KNOW BETTER (and many do) care enough about the truth to admit it. Then again, they might have to leave the movement…no big deal, really, since there are more honest movements they can belong to and achieve real goals. I think the tea party leaders, who are infighting as we speak, have gotten a little taste of celebrity and power and are under the influence of that! We all know what happens to people when they think they have power, don’t we? But let’s not confuse honesty, grass roots, mathematics, economics, social policy and all those other important matters with that feeling of power that the tea party leaders feel every time CNN calls them up to do an interview. Having the Tea Party be courted by the GOP is completely fantastic! This would be like your dad, who beat and abused you silly, going to the judge and asking to become your sole guardian! The GOP holds about 75% of the blame for the collapse of America as a economy and world power…..they basically sold the working person out to Enron, the Saudis and Wall Street…who all very quickly sucked up whatever tiny bits of wealth we had left. Now they want to enslave us forever with corporate health care – charging vastly more every year and… Read more »

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Where Today’s Large Deficits Come From
Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers

While President Obama inherited a dismal fiscal legacy, that does not diminish his responsibility to propose policies to address our fiscal imbalance and put the weight of his office behind them. Although policymakers should not tighten fiscal policy in the near term while the economy remains fragile, they and the nation at large must come to grips with the nation’s long-term deficit problem. But we should not mistake the causes of our predicament.

Getting the Facts Straight
A Tale of Deficits Under Two Presidents

To make progress on the needed mid-term and long-term deficit reduction will require strong bipartisan action. We are far from that at the moment. One step to improve the atmosphere for such action would be to end the deeply misleading portrayals, apparently for partisan purposes, of how we got into this mess in the first place.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>a greater adherence by our government to Constitutional principles
Monique, I would hope you read the constitution along with other historical documents and books relating to it. I suggest Miracle At Philadelphia, a step by step account of how they arrived at virtually EVERY word.
Frankly, much of the yelling about the constitution I hear from the tea party has no basis in fact! The constitution is actually quite a simple document and not hard to understand. It sets up the basics of the house, senate, president, etc……and gives the Fed. government vast powers over just about EVERYTHING pertaining to taxation, communication (post office at the time), roads, war, commerce and a slew of other things…such as:
promote public and general welfare
to borrow money
punish people
make ALL laws in regards to all of the above!
Now, the constitution also has a part which LIMITS the power of congress. That part is short, and says:
No slaves can be imported after 1808
No suspension of Habeus Corpus
No taxes on exporting from one state to another.
That’s about it.
So, pray tell, which parts of the constitution do you think we need to follow closer?
BTW, Bush probably suspended more of the constitutional rights than any President of our lifetime….and for an undeclared war! These include the rights to be secure in our houses, papers and effects (A. #4) as well as right to a trial, etc. etc. etc.
He pretty much used the US Constitution as toilet paper – in his words “I listen to a higher father”.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart-where did you go to school?Amherst or some similar craphole?
Ever hear of the 10th amendment??
Whew!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Oh, yes, I have read the constitution many a time, and the 10th is quite a short one!
Basically, it says that anything the Feds don’t do is left to the states.
I think you read the last 4 words of that without reading the first…….and, heck, it was not even in the original constitution!
It is simply a recitation of what was taken for granted when they wrote the original – that being that a state was free to do many things – BUT NOTHING THAT IN ANY WAY TRUMPS FEDERAL LAW. Examples include sales tax, property tax, laws for capital crimes and many many many many others things….
Last time I looked this was being adhered to quite well…..although it was the right who always enjoyed having the Feds busting people for marijuana and other such ridiculous stuff – you know, the Law and Order crowd.
Long live the Tea Party! I hope they get a 2nd and 3rd wind and screw up some additional elections before petering out.
Oh, my school? Valley Forge Military Academy and Main Line High Schools – both bastions of the Republican mainstream. After that, the school of experience and hard knocks kicked in.

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