Really important Op-Ed in the Times last week that I certainly should have gotten two early. A couple of Political Scientists, David Campbell and Robert Putnam have some great panel data in which they are able to assess the views of Tea Party members from 2006, well before there was a Tea Party. short version: the Tea Party is much more about mixing Christianity and politics and less about the economy then people (including me) have realized. Of course, this, in part, shows the degree to which the Christian right has adopted the economic agenda of big business. Among the more interesting analyses, they basically looked at what features of the respondents in 2006 made them most likely to end up as a Tea Party supporter. #1– Republican. #2– Christian conservative. Anyway, here’s some of the good bits:
Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.
What’s more, contrary to some accounts, the Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession. Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.
More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics
The authors go on to present evidence that this is a deeply unpopular view among most of the public. The Tea Party has fallen dramatically in popularity. It seems that for most Americans, to know the Tea Party is to dislike the Tea Party.
Definitely read the whole thing– it’s short, with a ton of good info packed in there. But, let’s end on this note. Now, the Tea Party is not “racist,” but there is this little fact
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do. [emphasis mine].