Experienced tea party activists have rarely recognized the descriptions of their events and membership in the MSM. Some no doubt wondered whether or not their local group was abnormal in its diversity, but several polls have now concluded that activists know their tea parties better than the media.
Quotes like this, now commonplace, describe some alternate reality, and certainly not the tea parties:
[In] other words, well-to-do conservative white men don’t much care for Barack Obama’s policies. Which, of course, is something we already knew from the exit polls back in November 2008.
This perception, peddled by the MSM and replicated by leftist bloggers, is consequently what many people believe to be true. Prominent tea party activists like Kevin Jackson and C.L. Bryant will not recognize this as anything close to accurate, though if you were to rely only on the crowd shots peddled by the MSM, you might sympathize.
On a program called The Young Turks, Steve Cohen (D-TN) said:
[The Tea Party shows] opposition to African Americans, hostility toward gays, hostility to anybody who wasn’t just a clone of George Wallace’s fan club.
Wallace of course being the late Alabama governor and presidential candidate who opposed desegregation.
Polls from Rasmussen and The Winston Group objectively show that Cohen owes America an apology. A significant percentage of tea partiers identify as Democrats and independents according to the Winston study:
In three national surveys, done for New Models from December 2009 through February 2010, 57% of Tea Party members called themselves Republicans, another 28% said they were Independents, and 13% were Democrats. Two-thirds of Tea Party members identify as conservatives but 26% say they are moderate and 8% described themselves as liberal.
And the percentage of Americans who agree with the tea party ideals is higher than that of those who agree with Obama’s socialism:
On major issues, 48% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than President Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own.
This also means that 48% of voters are closer to the tea party than the MSM, which might explain the appalling ratings of cable and broadcast news, Fox excepted.
Gallup’s results make the “fringe” and “extremist” canards look rather foolish:
Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That’s the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.
Ultimately, it seems unlikely the media will change its story about the nature of the tea party movement, but it does make a difference for activists to have these polls available to counter the claims of a hostile interviewer. It will be interesting if the various activists who regularly make press appearances find that the questions asked have changed.
Anyone who has actually attended a tea party will be able to tell of the diversity of background, views, religion, race, sex, and creed that is featured at these events. Maybe some in the MSM will take off their blinders if they attend any of the thousands of events taking place on the 15th of April.
Meanwhile, the tea party activists shall continue to be as diverse as the country and to reflect their local community in makeup.