Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meet your tea partiers

Although the sample is a bit small for my comfort, this CNN poll gives a first snapshot at the demographic makeup of the active members of the Tea Party movement: mostly white males, who are relatively privileged, and who wish to keep it that way. I'm gathering they tend to be predominantly Gen-X-ers and Boomers - as I've said before if it's to be a sustainable movement, it really needs a lot of youth active, and that doesn't really seem to be the case thus far. The demographic makeup would also cast more doubt on the extent to which Tea Partiers are truly "grass roots" or, as I suspect, are right-wing operatives and somewhat well-connected would-be elites. Given the anti-tax rhetoric these folks chant like some sort of mantra, I'm more prone to look at the "grass roots" label as little more than spin. Rather than being working-class folks who feel alienated, this movement is looking more like a bunch of aging 1990s Dittoheads who long for the "good old days" when they were listening to Rush Limbaugh in their dorm rooms.

Of course, I would love to see more hard data before I read too much into the results. The impression I have of this poll is that it only coincidentally examined self-identified Tea Party activists. What I would like to see is a survey that actually focuses exclusively on them, using a larger random sample than what was available for the CNN poll. I'd also want to see more data on what these folks actually purport to believe. How many are affiliated with organizations such as the John Birch Society, how many are affiliated with militias, how many are truthers, birthers, or otherwise harbor some sort of "New World Order" conspiracy theory?

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