CBS’s write-up is more comprehensive than the Times’s is, but if you can spare 15 minutes, I recommend scrolling through the easily scannable crosstabs for comparisons between tea partiers and the population at large. They made sure to cover all their fringe-y bases with the questions, asking respondents not only about the Paulnut crusade to end the Fed but even whether people had bought gold coins recently. (Most hadn’t.) No doubt the media will be riding its favorite hobbyhorse tomorrow — TPers turn out to be more likely than the average joe to be Birthers, to believe that the White House favors blacks over whites, and to say that too much is made of problems facing blacks — but if I were a lefty, here’s what would lead tomorrow’s talking points. Yowza.

ssmed

If you’re doing 60+ percent on federal entitlements among tea partiers, there’s hope yet for ObamaCare. Another surprise:

taxfair

Didn’t the word “tea” in the movement originally stand for “taxed enough already”? More surprises: The number who say abortion should be either legal or legal with restrictions is 65 percent, while the number who prefer to keep gun laws as they are now instead of relaxing them further is 55 percent. Tea partiers do love Palin, but not even they want to see her as president: The split is 40/47 (versus 26/63 for the general population). This one’s my favorite narrative-buster, though. File it away for reference the next time you’re warned that the tea party is going to derail the red wave in November:

thirdparty

They’re less likely than the average person to support third parties. I’ll leave you with a quote from the NYT piece that’s offered, tacitly, as representative of the movement:

“I just feel he’s getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”

They didn’t even poll the Obama/Muslim question, but they did poll the one about socialism. Exit question via Karl’s Twitter feed: How come the general population’s response to this wasn’t given more prominence?

socialism

Update: An excellent point from the comments which I should have caught myself: Most tea partiers are older, which doubtless helps explain those numbers on Medicare and Social Security. Among the general population, 50 percent of the Times’s sample was 45 or older; among tea partiers, it was 75 percent, with 29 percent 65 or older. Still, the point remains — even among the most devoutly fiscally conservative populist movement in America, self-interest trumps ideology when it comes to entitlements.