Survey: Who are the tea partiers?

Seventy percent of the grass-roots groups said they have not participated in any political campaigning this year. As a whole, they have no official candidate slates, have not rallied behind any particular national leader, have little money on hand, and remain ambivalent about their goals and the political process in general…

If anything tied the groups together, it was what motivated their members to participate. Virtually all said that economic concerns were a factor, and nearly as many cited a general mistrust of government. Opposition to President Obama and Democratic policies was a big factor, but only slightly more so than dissatisfaction with mainstream Republican leaders.

Eleven percent said that Obama’s race, religion or ethnic background was either a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor in the support their group has received.

While the tea party groups may lack a unifying direction or vision at the moment, the results show that they are ripe for action. A remarkable 86 percent of local leaders said most of their members are new to political activity, suggesting that they could be turned into a potent grass-roots force heading into the 2012 elections.

Of course, their general lack of interest in politics also suggests that they could just as easily recede, particularly if the economy improves.