Posted by Brad @ 3:09 pm on September 26th 2011

Breaking Down the Tea Party

The series of posts today seem almost archaic, don’t they? In any case, here’s one more. Reason polled self-identified Tea Partiers, with a particular eye towards their social conservativeness. What they find more or less hews to what we here have long asserted (as, of course, has Reason): that the Tea Party isn’t very homogenous on the matter. Asked point blank if “government should promote traditional values”, 59% agreed – while 41% assert that “government should not promote any particular set of values.”

Of course, that’s a significant majority – but so to is 41% a very significant minority. The real question (sadly unanswered by Reason) is how that compares to the Republican party at large. My hunch is that the rate would be less social conservative to the party at large. In which case it becomes a case of “see what you want to see”. Is the Tea Party, by being majority socially conservative, therefore a social conservative influence on both the GOP and the political arena in general? Or, by being LESS socially conservative than traditional Republican grassroots, a socially liberal influence on both the GOP and the political arena. Tomato, tomato.

13 Comments »

  1. What I love about today’s blogging is the fodder it provides for Jack’s next upbraiding of some blogger or commentator who demands that we’re in the tank for the bigoted right wing. A post about the Tea Party not being all socially conservative, a post about anti-gay activists being morons, a post about Republicans being morons when it comes to presidential power, and then a post about the Tea Party not being all racist. Pigeon hole that, bitches.

    Comment by Brad — 9/26/2011 @ 6:38 pm

  2. Back to delurk briefly because I care.

    First, keep in mind that this poll actually doesn’t do a very good job of keeping an eye on social conservatism. It uses a question on if government should promote traditional marriage to determine liberal/libertarian vs. conservative/communitarian. It’s only question mentioning abortion or gay marriage is on the voter’s perception of the priority of the tea party (social issues vs. economic issues). It doesn’t ask self-identifying Tea Partiers about their views on abortion, gay marriage, or illegal immigration.

    Surveys that do specifically ask about social issues (See http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1903/tea-party-movement-religion-social-issues-conservative-christian for example) find less social liberalism/libertarianism among Tea Partiers. So view the 41% in Reason’s poll as a ceiling for social liberalism/libertarianism among the Tea Partiers, with something around 25% to 30% a more likely number.

    Second, Reason’s poll lists Tea Parties separately but this includes the strange creature of Democrats who also self-identify as Tea Partiers. Democrats or Independents who lean to the Democratic Party make up 15% of the socially libertarian-leaning Tea Partiers, and only 9% of the socially conservative-leaning Tea Partiers. For what it’s worth.

    Those are two important points that I wanted to make at the onset, switching to a different comment to address your speculation about the comparison to the non-Tea Party Republicans.

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 9/26/2011 @ 8:19 pm

  3. On the issue of non-Tea Party Republicans.

    In Reason’s survey (http://reason.com/assets/db/13166062114950.pdf) Tea Party supporters are 28% of the survey. Non-Tea Party republicans are 16% of the survey. See also: http://reason.com/poll/2011/09/20/gop-divided-tea-party-supporte

    When you look at the numbers, 41/42% of Tea Partiers are socially liberal/libertarian. 46% of non-Tea Party Republicans are socially liberal/libertarian. So they are not less socially conservative than the rest of the GOP, but I will give you that it’s close. But you’ll notice that even though you can calculate this using Reason’s numbers they don’t really highlight this in their blog post at all.

    I personally suspect that Reason’s wording of their question on if government should “promote” traditional values is increasing support for social liberalism/libertarianism among Tea Partiers attuned to the issue of government “promoting” anything. Phrased another way, say government “defending” traditional values, or a straight up question on gay marriage, the Tea Partiers would be even more socially conservative. So no, I don’t think there’s evidence that the Tea Party is more socially liberal/libertarian than the rest of the GOP and so it’s difficult to argue that they are potentially pulling the GOP in the left direction on social issues.

    One more comment after this, wrapping things up.

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 9/26/2011 @ 8:27 pm

  4. One last point.

    They have not yet released more information on Democrats, Pure Independents, and those that refused or didn’t know their partisan identification. That’s unfortunate. I’ve asked, but Emily hasn’t responded.

    But there’s enough information released so far that you can do some back of the envelope calculations about Democrats, Pure Independents, and DKs as a whole.

    They add up to 55%/56% of the survey. 40% are liberal, 20% are libertarian, 22% are communitarian, and 18% are conservative.

    With these numbers, roughly 38% of non-Republican/non-Tea Partiers are economically conservative. Based on the “liberal” rounding in the post asking if “half” of the Tea Party is libertarian, you could argue that “half” of non-Tea Partiers and non-Republicans are libertarian. I think that’s a stretch but just shows how much you have to strain logic to boost the number of libertarians in the Tea Party.

    I’d love to be able to look at just Democrats and just Pure Independents. My hunch is more libertarians among just Pure Independents, but I don’t know for sure. I’ll be waiting patiently for a future post from Emily on the topic. We’ll see.

    But notice that when you look at the big picture, roughly 13% of the survey are libertarians who either affiliate with the Tea Party, affiliate with the GOP, or lean GOP. 11% of the survey are libertarians who either affiliate with the Democratic Party, are Pure Independents, or Don’t Know.

    Given my argument that the survey overstates the number of socially liberal/libertarian Tea Partiers, this is a strong case that there are almost as many, if not more, libertarians out there who are not Republicans and are not Tea Partiers. This is very important and being totally overlooked by both the mainstream media and more Tea Party friendly groups like Reason, Cato, etc.

    I’d love to see the internal cross tabs to the poll to see more about the views of these non-GOP/non-TP libertarians. How do they view the Tea Party, specifically the question on if they think the Tea Party focuses on social issues or economic issues? From the survey (http://reason.com/poll/2011/09/13/55-percent-of-american-believe) non-Tea Party supporters are more likely to believe the Tea Party is just as focused on social issues as economic ones, and they are more negative about the Tea Party than supporters (obviously).

    Something tells me we’ve already seen at least one study that indirectly found this TP/GOP libertarian vs. non-TP/GOP libertarian split: http://people-press.org/2011/05/04/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology/ See their “libertarian” group and their “post-modern” group.

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 9/26/2011 @ 8:42 pm

  5. OK Spock, you can show up and spout your “numbers” and “facts” but we fly by our gut here, and our gut is saying any number of clear, common-sense, patriotic, American things. It is rumbling! Our gut is.

    Comment by Jack — 9/26/2011 @ 10:33 pm

  6. I thought the bad news on the poll, was the last bit, would you support a socially liberal, economically conservative person. With the ‘Tea Party’ only going 45% on this. Though, I suppose it could be more the ‘third party/independent’ thing depressing the numbers… or the fact that I don’t know that ‘economically conservative’ means what it used to mean…

    Comment by Redland Jack — 9/27/2011 @ 12:39 am

  7. For a movement that is supposedly veering the GOP wildly to the right, a near 50-50 split on the question of whether they’d support a socially liberal economic conservative is pretty damn good.

    As to FD:

    “I personally suspect that Reason’s wording of their question on if government should “promote” traditional values is increasing support for social liberalism/libertarianism among Tea Partiers attuned to the issue of government “promoting” anything. Phrased another way, say government “defending” traditional values, or a straight up question on gay marriage, the Tea Partiers would be even more socially conservative.”

    And see, I personally thought phrasing it as “traditional values” might INCREASE support, because traditional values, in the Tea Party milieu, includes things like capitalism and constitutionalism and America-loving and is more all-encompassing than just a discrete list of gay marriage and abortion. But on the whole, I think it’s a fair wording of a pretty direct question, and 41% is a pretty hefty chunk for a roving band of Christianists in disguise.

    Comment by Brad — 9/27/2011 @ 8:37 am

  8. The 50/50 strikes me as bad, since I’ve always thought of the Tea Party as more libertarian-leaning than the rest of the Republican party (since it seemed to coalesce originally around the Ron Paul types). (I guess I’m assuming that the Tea Party is primarily Republican, which the Reason poll moderately supports).

    If the Tea Party is more favorable to libertarian ideas than the other Republicans, 50/50 isn’t too exciting.

    Furthermore, I don’t think the Democrats can be counted on to be in favor of someone socially liberal and fiscally conservative. It certainly appears that being fiscally liberal is generally far more important than being socially liberal for Democrats…

    Comment by Redland Jack — 9/27/2011 @ 12:00 pm

  9. I don’t view it as bad at all – half of the conservative grassroots would be fine supporting a socially liberal economic conservative? That’s a pretty marked improvement.

    And, it supports what most of us, from me to David Weigel, have been saying for years – that the Tea Party is best understood as two streams, the Sarah Palin stream (maybe now Michelle Bachmann), and the Ron Paul stream. Nobody is denying that there is a significant contingent of the Tea Party who are social conservatives. But many are also asserting that that’s the entire impetus behind the movement, that they are Christianists in fiscal con clothing, etc. etc., and that just isn’t borne out by anything but prejudicial paranoia.

    Comment by Brad — 9/27/2011 @ 12:11 pm

  10. I also think there is a significant Tancredo stream to the Tea Party as well. And also a… what name do we put to the most irrationally rabid anti-Islam birther flirting stream? Ah yes, the Frank Gaffney stream.

    Comment by Jack — 9/27/2011 @ 7:27 pm

  11. Man, so the Tea Party is just everything shitty in American politics? No wonder you guys hate them.

    Comment by Brad — 9/27/2011 @ 10:26 pm

  12. That sounds faintly like whining. So you don’t perceive a significant Tancredo and Gaffney element to the multifaceted Tea Party, and by this I mean greater than not only the U.S. average but the GOP average as well? If you would prefer, we can go back to just seeing them as a monolithic racist organization headed by Sarah Palin, rather than the multi-faceted and disparate group we are admitting to, while still noting heavy small government, nativist, nationalist, and populist segments.
    Nothing will satisfy you!

    Comment by Jack — 9/28/2011 @ 8:44 am

  13. >For a movement that is supposedly veering the GOP wildly to the right, a near 50-50 split on the question of whether they’d support a socially liberal economic conservative is pretty damn good.

    The point is that yes, the Tea Party is pushing the GOP to the right. The Tea Party is both more economically conservative than non-TP Republicans AND more socially conservative (based on Reason’s questioning) than non-TP Republicans.

    >Furthermore, I don’t think the Democrats can be counted on to be in favor of someone socially liberal and fiscally conservative. It certainly appears that being fiscally liberal is generally far more important than being socially liberal for Democrats…

    I would love to see this polled. Sadly I don’t think Reason or anyone else has ever bothered to poll Democrats on questions that seem routine for Republicans.

    As I pointed out, by Reason’s own polling almost half of libertarians are outside of the Tea Party and the GOP. But their emphasis is entirely on scenario questions to the Tea Party and the GOP, not trying to determine the perspective of independent or Democratic-leaning libertarians.

    >I also think there is a significant Tancredo stream to the Tea Party as well. And also a… what name do we put to the most irrationally rabid anti-Islam birther flirting stream? Ah yes, the Frank Gaffney stream.

    I would be surprised if the more xenophobic and anti-Islam streams weren’t correlated with the more socially conservative stream found in Reason’s poll. But as I said originally, they are only looking at social issues with one question. Other polling shows higher levels of social conservatism when asking about immigration, gay marriage, Muslims, etc. There’s a reason why even Ron Paul panders on issues like immigration.

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 9/28/2011 @ 7:47 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.