Tea Party demographics

Two polls on the Tea Party movement that flatly contradict each other have appeared in the liberal Democratic press. A Gallup poll(1) found no difference between the Tea Party movement and the general public in terms of education and age distribution, while the New York Times/CBS(2) paints a picture of the Tea Party movement as much older and much better educated than the general public.

If we take an average of the Gallup and New York Times/CBS polls, then the Tea Party movement is still above average in education level and age. The “New York Times” is claiming that the 18% of the public in the Tea Party movement is 75% from the over 45 category.

The older age reputed by the “New York Times” is a finding that cuts two ways. By virtue of being older, it becomes redundant to say that the Tea Party movement is more white, because older age groups have smaller minority proportions than younger generations. This becomes important to point out because the Gallup poll actually suggests the opposite of what the papers have emphasized on race.

Combined, the two polls suggest that if the Republican Party managed to field candidates that attracted demographics like the Tea Party, the Democrats would be thrashed handily in 2010 elections. Yes, 6% Black is under-representation of Blacks as Gallup says, but less so in older age groups and compared with past Republican vote getting efforts.

While past Republican efforts to attract Black votes have achieved single digit success, the 6% figure translates to approximately 30% of all Black votes if extended nationally in a close election as recent elections have been. The Democratic Party would not be able to afford that high a defection rate of Black votes, not to mention better educated whites.

The image of the Tea Party movement as southern Bubba is probably not correct. Quite the contrary, if the “New York Times” is correct, it could be the Democrats are disproportionately hillbilly.

Then too, we have to ask whether the Tea Party movement is disproportionately ’60s generation. Perhaps it is just that one generation produces all the social movements.

1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/127181/Tea-Partiers-Fairly-Mainstream-Demographics.aspx#1
2. New York Times 15Apr2010, p. a19.


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