Survey: Most tea partiers are socially conservative, almost half identify with religious right

Reports of the libertarian takeover of the GOP have, it seems, been greatly exaggerated. A single tear rolls down a socially centrist, fiscally conservative, atheist blogger’s cheek…

But the survey challenged much of the other conventional wisdom about Americans who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement:

o Nearly half (47%) also say they are part of the religious right or conservative Christian movement. Among the more than 8-in-10 (81%) who identify as Christian within the Tea Party movement, 57% also consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement.

o They make up just 11% of the adult population—half the size of the conservative Christian movement (22%).

o They are mostly social conservatives, not libertarians on social issues. Nearly two-thirds (63%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and less than 1-in-5 (18%) support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

o They are largely Republican partisans. More than three-quarters say they identify with (48%) or lean towards (28%) the Republican Party. More than 8-in-10 (83%) say they are voting for or leaning towards Republican candidates in their districts, and nearly three-quarters (74%) of this group report usually supporting Republican candidates.

A word of caution: This same survey finds that 54 percent of voters are more likely to support a candidate if he/she voted for ObamaCare. Hmmmm. On the other hand, WaPo’s new poll also found that more than half of white evangelicals support the tea party, which jibes with the fiscal con/social con overlap described in PRRI’s numbers. There’s no reason to be especially surprised at that — the tea party has in part simply been a way for conservative Republicans to rebrand themselves after souring on the GOP — but with all the attention the movement’s gotten from libertarians, there’s a lingering question as to who really dominates when it comes to non-fiscal matters. The answer, it appears, is conservatives, not libertarians, which we should have known from the response to Beck’s religious rally on the Mall and the hero status accorded among most tea partiers to Jim DeMint, who was last seen insisting that you need a big God to have a small government. Some tea party leaders like Andrew Ian Dodge might not like it, but it is what it is. Exit question: Should we assume that tea partiers trend hawkish in their foreign policy too? If most are simply conservatives by another name, it stands to reason.