Inside the mind of the Tea Partier

Today, of course, was “Tax Day,” marked by 768 Tea Party Protests across the country.  (Slate has a map of how the movement has grown across the country.)

For the occasion, the Tea Party will unveil a “Contract From America,” a ten-point list which was arrived at through polling of its members.  Here’s a summary:

(1) Require each bill to identify its constitutional authorization
(2) Defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care
(3) Demand a balanced budget
(4) End runaway government spending by imposing a statutory cap limiting growth in federal spending
(5) Enact fundamental reform to simplify and lower taxes.
(6)Create a Blue Ribbon task force that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs
(7) Reject cap-and-trade
(8) Pass an “all of the above” energy policy
(9) Stop the 2011 tax hikes
(10) Stop the pork.

The New York Times published a survey of the attitudes of Tea Party supporters.

You can read the full poll results here.  Some of the results might surprise non-Tea Party supporters (82% of the country.)

The Washington Times writes, “its findings that revealed that tea party activists are neither ‘political junkies or crusty right-wing extremists.’ Almost half the respondents had never been involved with politics prior to 2009.”  Digby offers “It probably won’t surprise you much.  They are extremely negative and angry. And they really, really hate Barack Obama.”

The New York Times’ top points:

Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.

They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”

And while most Republicans say they are “dissatisfied” with Washington, Tea Party supporters are more likely to classify themselves as “angry.”

David Jarman of elaborates:

If you stopped there, you might think this is largely a class-based movement, built on the principle of “I got mine.” But there’s more to it than that: 25 percent of the movement’s supporters think that the administration favors blacks over whites (compared with 11 percent of the general public).

This point is reinforced by a study released last week by the University of Washington, which discovered that people who think that “the U.S. government has done too much to support blacks” were 36 percent more likely to support the Tea Party than those who didn’t think so. Among whites who approve of the Tea Party, only 35 percent said they believe blacks are hard-working, only 45 percent believe blacks are intelligent, and just 41 percent believe that they’re trustworthy. (Curiously, the UW poll was only conducted in seven battleground states.)

While the Tea Partiers take pains to avoid appearing racist, they’re still operating at the nexus of class and race. This seems to have reached a head with healthcare reform. The UW survey’s director, Christopher Parker, summed it up this way: “While it’s clear that the Tea Party in one sense is about limited government, it’s also clear from the data that people who want limited government don’t want certain services for certain kinds of people. Those services include health care.”

Digging through the attitudes covered in the survey, we find this the most telling (again via Digby):

Regardless of your overall opinion, do you think the views of the people in the tea party movement generally reflect the views of most Americans? 84% of the self-identified teabaggers said yes. Only 25% of the general public agreed.

78% of them said they hadn’t donated or attended a rally. 68% haven’t even visited a web site.

Where are they getting their information? 63% of them get their TV news from FOX. 53% believe that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are news shows.

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