The latest CBS News poll contained some interesting information about who supports the Tea Party movement. Contrary to what Tea Partiers claim, their movement is not bi-partisan. Of the 20% who considered themselves Tea Party supporters, 36% were Republicans, 18% were Independents, and only 2% were Democrats, so much for that organic bi-partisan movement to take back America. The Tea Party is really nothing more than the same old white Republicans.
Respondents to the CBS Poll were divided in their opinion of the
Tea Party. 22% had a positive opinion, 20% had a negative opinion, 21% were undecided, and 36% didn’t know enough about the Tea Party. When support was broken down by party affiliation, 44% of Republicans, 22% of Independents, and 2% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of them. Forty percent of Democrats, 14% of Independents, and only 5% of Republicans held an unfavorable view of the Tea Party.
Only 20% of Americans identified themselves as Tea Party supporters, but 59% responded that they did not support them. Republicans were split almost evenly on the Tea Party, as 39% supported it, and 36% didn’t. Independents were against the Tea Party by an almost 3 to 1 margin, 58%-21%, and Democrats were almost universally against the Tea Party, 80% did not support, 2% did. Not surprisingly, 55% of Tea Party supporters were angry at Washington. It is here that I wish the poll would have dived a little deeper. It would be interesting to see what issues they are most upset about, because their cause de jour seems to change by the moment.
A picture of the Tea Party is taking shape, and it is not the one that Tea Party leaders like Sarah Palin are out there selling. This is not an organic non-partisan movement. They are a far right splinter group of Republicans who are looking to assume control of the GOP. They aren’t new people. In the 1960’s they were the radical right. In the 1980’s, they were Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. In the 1990s they were the culture warriors, and after the Clinton scandal family values conservatives. In the 2000s they became social conservatives, and in 2009-2010, they are the Tea Party.
While the original Tea Party movement was started by Libertarians who supported Ron Paul in 2008, they have been pushed out and replaced by Sarah Palin and the far right. The split within the GOP on support for the Tea Party is evidence of the battle that is going on for the ideological soul of the GOP. Anyone who thinks the Tea Party movement is sustainable over the long term is kidding themselves.
This is a movement based on right wing anger, and once the anger fades away, so will the Tea Party. Even after they are gone, the far right will be back in a few years, dressed up with a new name and spouting the same extremist political views. They will be back trying sell the same views that have been rejected for decades, and they will claim to be bi-partisan organic, and new, but it will really be the same white sponsors, with the same white faces, advocating the same old politics.