Who are the Tea Partiers?

For the past few months, media outlets have described Tea Party followers as racist, reactionary, Birthers, and just about every insult one could find in the dictionary.  CNN’s Anderson Cooper helped popularize a sexual slur as a description for the group that others in the media continue to use: teabaggers.  However, a new poll by the Winston Group of a thousand registered voters returned some surprising results, including the fact that 13% of the Tea Party followers are Democrats:

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

The Winston Group conducted three national telephone surveys of 1,000 registered voters between December and February. Of those polled, 17 percent – more than 500 people — said they were “part of the Tea Party movement.” …

The group is united around two issues – the economy/jobs and reducing the deficit. They believe that cutting spending is the key to job creation and favor tax cuts as the best way to stimulate the economy. That said 61 percent of Tea Party members believe infrastructure spending creates jobs. Moreover, given the choice Tea Party members favor 63-32 reducing unemployment to 5 percent over balancing the budget.

Gallup follows with a new poll today showing that the demographics of the movement are more or less a snapshot of the US:

Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That’s the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party supporters are decidedly Republican and conservative in their leanings. Also, compared with average Americans, supporters are slightly more likely to be male and less likely to be lower-income.

In several other respects, however — their age, educational background, employment status, and race — Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large.

Is the Tea Party as racist as the media and leading Democrats have portrayed?  Gallup’s demos of the Tea Party look very close to that of the overall American demos on ethnicity.  Whites make up 79% of the Tea Party and 75% of the population; blacks, 6% of the Tea Party and 11% of the population; and “other” in the Tea Party exactly matches the general population at 15%.

The demographic similarities don’t stop there.  The educational background of Tea Party followers almost exactly matches that of the general population.  Among age demos, the differences between the two are no more than two points for any of the four categories used by Gallup.  The same is true of employment profiles, although ironically Tea Party followers tend slightly more to be employed full-time than not.  Income demographics differ a little more, but not by much.  Low-income earners (less than $30K) make up 19% of the Tea Party, as compared to 25% of the general population, and those making more than $50K are 55% of the Tea Party rather than the 50% of the general population, but that’s not much of a difference.

Last week, we discovered that CNN and MS-NBC continued to bleed viewers while Fox News continues to grow.  That may be a result of politically active Americans getting tired of being insulted by news networks that have sneeringly misrepresented a movement to which they belong or at least sympathize.  (via Andrew Malcolm)

Update: At TMV, Rick Moran says that the Democratic and media narrative on the Tea Party just “jumped the shark.”

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