April 5, 2010

The apologists for the Tea Party are out in force today, citing poll numbers in a lame attempt to make their case that, really, they're not an overwhelmingly white movement riddled with Obama-hating sore losers who refuse to accept the results of the 2008 election and are hoping to overturn them.

Gallup: Tea Partiers Are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics

The Hill: Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party members are Democrats or independents

Myth-busting polls: Tea Party members are average Americans, 41% are Democrats, independents

Gallup's numbers are its own and really don't tell us much, except that the Tea Party has been wildly successful at drawing the bulk of its participants from the American mainstream, even though its leadership is from the extremist populist right.

But the really ludicrous headline is Malcolm's (and similarly The Hill's) because it conflates Independents with Democrats.

Hello? Have any of these idiots been paying attention to the Tea Party rhetoric, especially from their Uber-Leader, Glenn Beck? They specifically proclaim their independence from the Republican Party because it isn't far right-wing enough.

Look at the actual results from the poll they're citing (full PDF of data here):

Republican: 57

Democrat: 13

Independent: 28

Meanwhile, the Gallup poll notes that 70 percent of Tea Party followers identify as conservative, compared to only 40 percent of Americans generally.

Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the racial composition, as the same poll noted:


Yeah, that looks just like America to me.

Naturally, the Tea Partiers trot out their tiny handful of minority participants -- like Kevin Jackson, in the video above, being trotted out by Bill O'Reilly to somehow disprove the notion that the Tea Parties might be racist. It's reminiscent of the 2008 campaign, when every right-wing black person in America found themselves employed as a Fox political analyst.

At least The Hill notes:

The group also vehemently dislikes President Barack Obama – even more so than those who called themselves Republicans in the survey. Over 80 percent of Tea Party members disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, whereas 77 percent of Republican respondents said they disapprove of Obama. The Tea Party members are also strongly opposed to the Democrats’ healthcare plan, with 82 percent saying they oppose it -- only 48 percent of respondents overall were opposed.

Which brings up the point: Have any of you noticed that there is a simple question that is going unasked in all these polls? To wit:

Did you vote for Barack Obama for president in the 2008 election?

Because you know that the answer "No" will be in excess of 90 percent.

There are, after all, plenty of Democrats and Independents who did not vote for Obama.

I've attended a number of Tea Party events, and it's a question I consistently ask: "Did you vote for Obama?"

Uniformly and without fail, the answer has been: "No." Though some are quick to add that they have friends in the movement who voted for Obama. Probably all of them have the same five friends.

Then I ask them: "Then aren't you just being a sore loser? The majority of voters in this country approved of him and his programs when they voted for him. Aren't you just refusing to accept that verdict?"

Because it's increasingly clear that this is exactly what the Tea Party movement is: A movement of sore losers.

Usually, I get dirty looks or mumbling in response.

Greg Sargent and Steve Benen have more.

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