s skippy the bush kangaroo: it's my tea party and i'll lie if i want to

skippy the bush kangaroo



Monday, April 05, 2010

it's my tea party and i'll lie if i want to

we were equal parts confounded and skeptical when we saw today's memeorandum report with above-the-fold (that's newspaper talk, hildy!) links to various hardly-ever-right wing blogs touting two, count 'em, two separate polls.

these polls (the winston group & gallup, and who wouldn't trust polls named after cigarettes and new mexican towns?) seemingly prove that tea baggers are cut from a broad swath of american stock, if we can mix metaphors at the same time we deconstruct grammatical syntax for no apparent reason:
yikes! that's scary! four in 10!

but wait, let's actually read the article:
the national breakdown of the tea party composition is 57 percent republican, 28 percent independent and 13 percent democratic, according to three national polls by the winston group, a republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.
now, even ignoring the idea that many repubbblicans declared themselves to be independent (right, mr. gallup?) since the disaster that was the bush administration, and therefore can expected to be nothing more than repubbbs in indy clothing, let's just look at that headline.

"four in 10 tea party members are democrats or independents". firstly, nice ignoring of strunk & white's elements of style.

but more importantly, the reality of the situation points out that merely one out of ten (appx.) tea baggers consider themselves democrats, and three out of ten consider themselves independent. wouldn't a smart and/or honest journalist (you remember those?) put the weighted representation up front, ie, "4 in ten tea party members are independents or democrats"?

instead, we get a headline that implies that almost 40% of tea baggers are democrats, when the truth is it's more like 10%.

but, let's let someone far more erudite than we deconstruct this. steve benen:
at first blush, reading that "four in 10" teabaggers are dems or independents makes it sound as if the unhinged, misguided movement has broad support. it doesn't. even if we accept a republican firm's results at face value, the tea party is dominated by republicans and republican-friendly independents (remember, thinking on indys as a coherent, self-contained group is completely wrong).

if an analysis is going to lump tea party-friendly independents with one of the major parties, it makes far more sense to say 85% of movement members are republicans or independents.

while about a third of the nation at large approves of the republican party, with the tea party crowd, gop approval is a whopping 71%.

that's not especially "mainstream." on the contrary, it sounds like a pretty conservative group of folks.

and then there's the gallup poll.

gallup goes ahead and gives the right the headline it wants to see: "tea partiers are fairly mainstream in their demographics."

but it's difficult to review gallup's results and reach that conclusion. the pollster found that 28% of americans identify themselves as part of the right-wing group. greg sargent took a closer look at that 28%.

  • forty-nine percent of tea party supporters are republicans, 43% are independents, and only eight percent are dems. that means a huge majority -- 92% -- are republicans or indys, and again, many of those indys could be former republicans or lean gop anyway.

  • seventy percent of tea party supporters say they're conservative, and only 22% say they're moderate. and who knows what they even mean by that word to begin with.

  • a whopping 79% of tea party supporters are non-hispanic whites. only 65% of americans were non-hispanic whites as of 2008.

marc ambinder summarized the findings this way: "tea partiers are conservative. moving along..."
late breaking addendum: chris good @ the atlantic dissects the numbers even finer:
this set of data, taken from surveys of 1,033 adults total (28% of whom were tea party supporters), fights the perception of who the tea partiers are, at least as it's presented sometimes by left- and center-leaning (or non-leaning) media sources: that the tea partiers are a bunch of angry white people, or that they're the working-class whites who, liberals have long complained, vote against their interests by supporting republicans. or that a lot of them are unemployed, as were the jobless tea party activists interviewed by kate zernike for this new york times piece.

but these results should come with a caveat: they are not the demographics of activists who regularly go to meetings hosted by "tea party" groups, nor are they the demographics of people who show up for tea party rallies.

they are the demographics of people who told gallup they consider themselves to be a "supporter...of the tea party movement," as opposed to an "opponent," or "neither." it's one thing to tell a gallup pollster that you support something; it's another to show up at a rally and hold a sign, or chant, or just be there in the crowd to oppose the agenda of president obama and the tarp bailout initiated under president bush. gallup's poll is as much a test of the "tea party" brand as it is of the movement itself.

there may or may not be a sight divergence between the tea party movement's leaders and its rank-and-file participants.

most of the organizers--i.e., the leaders of local tea party groups--i've talked to have been older, middle- and upper-middle-aged, and many of them (certainly a disproportionate amount, compared to the national population) have been small business owners. that's just the impression i get; it is informed, partly, by a meeting of tea party activists at the freedomworks office in washington, dc, which reporters (including myself) were invited to attend in january, and obviously those in attendance were the organizers with the time and means to travel to dc for a weekend, which would logically filter them by economic status and job type, perhaps to a significant degree.
we have little to add to that, save that the original number of tea baggers used as the model for the poll, if you remember your math is (28% who identified as "supporting" the tea baggers out of 1033 adults) equals a whopping 295 people (rounded up).

so, based on the responses of 295, we can extrapolate that america lurvs the tea baggers.

sure.
posted by skippy at 9:51 AM |

2 Comments:

100% idiots
commented by Blogger Fran, 12:24 AM PDT  
you're an idiot. Someone should tea bag you.
commented by Anonymous dave, 1:12 PM PDT  

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