Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later.
They're not the mass media portrays them to be:
... while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.
To that leads to the obvious question:
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.
What else do they have in common?
- Number 1 predictor is being Republican.
- Social conservatives, who oppose abortion, for example.
- Desire to see religion play a prominent role in politics.
- Small Government is low on the list.