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					Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are and What They Believe
Posted by Brian Montopoli
They're white. They're older. And they're angry.
CBS News and the New York Times surveyed 1,580 adults, including 881 self-identified
Tea Party supporters, to get a snapshot of the Tea Party movement. There is a lot of
information to unpack; let's begin with the demographics.
Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. The vast majority of
them -- 89 percent -- are white. Just one percent is black.
They tend to skew older: Three in four are 45 years old or older, including 29 percent
who are 65 plus. They are also more likely to be men (59 percent) than women (41
More than one in three (36 percent) hails from the South, far more than any other region.
Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent
from the northeast.
They are better educated than most Americans: 37 percent are college graduates,
compared to 25 percent of Americans overall. They also have a higher-than-average
household income, with 56 percent making more than $50,000 per year.
More than half (54 percent) identify as Republicans, and another 41 percent say they are
independents. Just five percent call themselves Democrats, compared to 31 percent of
adults nationwide.
Nearly three in four describe themselves as conservative, and 39 percent call themselves
very conservative. Sixty percent say they always or usually vote Republican. Forty
percent say the United States needs a third party, while 52 percent say it does not.
They are more likely than American adults overall to attend religious services weekly (38
percent do so) and to call themselves evangelical (39 percent). Sixty-one percent are
Protestant, and another 22 percent are Catholic.
More than half -- 58 percent -- keep a gun in the household.
More than three in four Tea Party supporters (78 percent) have never attended a rally or
donated to a group; most have also not visited a Tea Party Web site.
For the purposes of the poll, those who have attended a rally or donated to a group have
been deemed Tea Party "activists." Four percent of Americans fall into this category.
Tea Party activists tend to be even angrier, more pessimistic about the country and more
negative about President Obama than other Americans who identify as part of the Tea
Party movement. For a breakdown of the beliefs of these activists, click here.
What They Believe
Fifty-three percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as "angry" about the way
things are going in Washington, compared to 19 percent of Americans overall who say
they are angry.
Asked what they are most angry about, the top four answers among Tea Party supporters
who identify as angry were the health care reform bill (16 percent), the government not
representing the people (14 percent), government spending (11 percent) and
unemployment and the economy (8 percent).
More than nine in ten (92 percent) say America is on the wrong track, while just six
percent say the country is headed in the right direction. Fifty-nine percent of Americans
overall say the country is on the wrong track.
Eighty-eight percent disapprove of President Obama's performance on the job, compared
to 40 percent of Americans overall. While half of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's job
performance, just seven percent of Tea Party supporters say he is doing a good job.
Asked to volunteer what they don't like about Mr. Obama, the top answer, offered by 19
percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don't like him. Eleven percent said he
is turning the country more toward socialism, ten percent cited his health care reform
efforts, and nine percent said he is dishonest.
Seventy-seven percent describe Mr. Obama as "very liberal," compared to 31 percent of
Americans overall. Fifty-six percent say the president's policies favor the poor, compared
to 27 percent of Americans overall.
Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans,
despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama
administration. Thirty-four percent of the general public says the president has raised
taxes on most Americans.
While most Americans (58 percent) say the president understands their needs and
problems, just 24 percent of Tea Party supporters agree. Just one in five say the president
shares the values of most Americans.
Only one percent of Tea Party supporters approve of the job Congress is doing, compared
to 17 percent of Americans overall.
Twenty-four percent of Tea Party supporters say it is sometimes justified to take violent
action against the government. That compares to 16 percent of Americans overall who
say violence against the government is sometimes justified.
Sixty-three percent say they get the majority of their political and current events news on
television from the Fox News Channel, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall.
Forty-seven percent say television is their main source of Tea Party information, the top
source; another 24 percent say they get Tea Party information from the internet.
Nearly half say the main goal of the movement is to reduce the role of the federal
government, far outdistancing any other consideration. Just seven percent say the goal of
the movement is to elect Tea Party candidates.
An overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters, 84 percent, say the views of the Tea
Party movement reflect the views of most Americans. But Americans overall disagree:
Just 25 percent say the Tea Party movement reflects their beliefs, while 36 percent say it
does not.

Socialism, The Birther Movement, and Tea Party Leaders
Ninety-two percent of Tea Party supporters believe President Obama's policies are
moving the country toward socialism. Fifty-two percent of Americans overall share that
Asked what socialism means, roughly half of Tea Party supporters volunteered
government ownership or control, far more than any other answer. Eleven percent cited
taking away rights or limiting freedom, and eight percent said it means the redistribution
of wealth.
Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country,
despite ample evidence to the contrary. Another 29 percent say they don't know. Twenty
percent of Americans overall, one in five, believe the president was not born in the
United States. (More on this part of the poll here.)
Tea Party supporters were asked in the poll what they thought of a few notable figures.
The most popular was Sarah Palin, who is viewed favorably by 66 percent of people in
the movement. Only 40 percent, however, believe she would be an effective president, a
smaller percentage than Republicans overall.
Fifty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters have a favorable impression of Glenn Beck.
Nearly as many, 57 percent, have a favorable impression of former President George W.
Bush, despite his role in raising the deficit and overseeing TARP bailout of the financial
Just 35 percent view John McCain favorably, and 28 percent view Ron Paul favorably.

Tea Party Supporters on the Issues
Tea Party supporters are more concerned with economic than social issues. Seventy-eight
percent say economic issues are a bigger concern, while 14 percent point to social issues.
They are more likely than Republicans and Americans overall to see illegal immigration
as a serious problem (82 percent), doubt the impact of global warming (66 percent) and
call the bank bailout unnecessary (74 percent).
Fifty-three percent say the Roe v. Wade decision was a bad thing (compared to 34
percent of Americans overall), 40 percent oppose same-sex marriage and civil unions
(compared to 30 percent overall) and 30 percent want gun control laws eased (compared
to 16 percent overall).
Ninety-three percent describe the economy as at least somewhat bad, and 42 percent say
it is getting worse. Fifty-eight percent believe America's best years are behind us when it
comes to good jobs, compared to 45 percent of Americans overall.
Just ten percent say the stimulus package had a positive effect on the economy (compared
to 32 percent of Americans overall), while 36 percent say it actually made things worse.
More than half say it had no impact.
Eighty-nine percent say the president has expanded the role of government too much.
More than three in four say lowering the federal government is more important than
government spending to create jobs.
And while the vast majority opposes the health care reform bill, 62 percent say programs
like Social Security and Medicare are worth the costs to taxpayers. (The figure is even
higher among Americans overall, at 76 percent.)
Views on Race
Tea Party supporters are less likely than Americans overall to believe whites have more
opportunities to get ahead than blacks.
Just 16 percent of Tea Party supporters say whites have more opportunities to get ahead,
compared to 31 percent of all Americans. Seventy-three percent say both have equal
opportunity, compared to 60 percent of Americans overall.
Fifty-two percent believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people.
Far fewer Americans overall -- 28 percent -- believe as much. Among non-Tea Party
whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of black
people is 23 percent.
A majority of Tea Party suppers believe the Obama administration treats both blacks and
whites the same way. But one in four believe the administration favors blacks over
whites, an opinion shared by just 11 percent of Americans overall and seven percent of
non-Tea Party whites.

Source of Poll:
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,580 adults nationwide, interviewed
by telephone April 5-12, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both
standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the
entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is
An oversample of people who describe themselves as supporters of the Tea Party
movement were interviewed, for a total of 881 interviews. The results were then weighted
in proportion to the adult population. The margin of error for the sample of Tea Party
supporters is three points. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of
the National Council on Public Polls

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