That’s the main message of the Democracy Corps special report on the Tea Party. I called into a conference call on this report and here’s the main things I learned:
- 47% of Republicans identify as Tea Party supporters.
- For all the talk about hating TARP, Tea Party members are overwhelming pro-big corporation.
- Tea Partiers are not blue collar not populist, and not affected by the recession more than the general population.
- Tea Partiers are a little older than the general population on average but not that much.
- Tea Partiers are less religious than other Republicans.
- “It is hard to overstate how much influence Glenn Beck has with these people….they view him as a historical scholar….they talk about him the way a graduate student talks about their adviser” — James Carville, from the call (the last part of my quote is approximate, the beginning is verbatim).
- Tea Partiers love Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh…but not as much as they love Glenn Beck.
- Tea Partiers are focused on beating Obama and may think more tactically in 2012 than some believe.
- The Tea Party may attract nuts and these nuts may be racists, but in general Tea Partiers make their anti-Obama arguments without reference to race.
- The enthusiasm of the Tea Party will probably help Republicans in November, 2010. After that, who knows, they could become a problem in terms of the perception the rest of the country has of the GOP.
You can read more about the study here.
The main lesson here is that Republicans have no hope of containing the Tea Party. Their most enthusiastic rank-and-file members tend to be Tea Partiers.
Update. A caption on my tv screen (CNN) right now: “Tea Party Express versus Tea Party Federation”. Splitters, all of them.