By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2010, 4:02pm PT  

The political positions of those describing themselves as sympathetic to the "Tea Party" represent a vast minority view, far outside of the mainstream positions represented by 2008 voters, according to a new poll commissioned by Project Vote.

The study finds self-described "Tea Partiers," and their political concerns, are far outweighed by the views of everyone else, despite the absurdly out-of-proportion coverage granted to them by the corporate mainstream media.

Analysis of the findings from around the net also underscores what we've long argued here at The BRAD BLOG: the Tea Baggers don't actually give a damn about "the deficit" or even the Constitution. If they did, they wouldn't have waited until after Republicans lost the elections in 2008 to start marching and decrying the deficit explosion (and supposed concerns about Constitutional rights) brought about under the previous Administration. They would have been out marching along with the real Tea Partiers, those who supported Ron Paul as long ago as 2007, and his concerns about unbridled deficit spending and the trampling of Constitutional rights during the eight years of the Bush Administration.

Here are some of the key findings from the new poll. In them, we learn what every MSMer should have endeavored to figure out and take into account long ago, before granting so much free exposure to the radical extremist fringe represented by these people...

  • Black voters, low-income voters, and young voters together make up 32% of the electorate. (Tea Party sympathizers make up 29% of the electorate, and all other voters make 39% of the electorate.)
  • Strong majorities of black voters (71%), young voters (59%), and low-income voters (60.5%) agree that government should work to provide for the needs of all citizens. [51%] of all voters agree with that sentiment. Only 20% of Tea Party sympathizers agree.
  • Strong majorities of black voters (71%), young voters (71%), and low-income voters (67%) support spending money on infrastructure, as do 68% of all 2008 voters.
  • Majorities of black voters (90%), young voters (84%), and low-income voters (71%) support increased spending on education, as do 65% of all voters, but only 40% of Tea Party sympathizers
  • Majorities of black voters (74%), young voters (68%), and low-income voters (75%), as well as a majority of all voters (58%), support spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans. Nearly two-thirds of Tea Party sympathizers (62%) support spending less.
  • Majorities of black voters, young income voters, and low-income voters, similar to a majority of all 2008 voters, support increasing taxes on investment income, increasing social security taxes on incomes greater than $107,000 and ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In all of the policy issues mentioned below, African-American, young American and low-income voters were far more in support of the particular policy than the rest of the general population of all voters. But even the general population of all voters vastly out-weighs Tea Party voters on these issues:

  • Whereas 65% of all voters support spending more on public education ... 41% of Tea Party sympathizers support more spending.
  • Whereas a majority of all voters (58%) support spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans ... Only 33% of Tea party sympathizers share that view.
  • Whereas 30% of all 2008 voters strongly favor ending combat operations on Iraq and Afghanistan ... Only 17% of Tea Party sympathizers strongly agree.

And, for all of their bitching and moaning about how terrible things are for them now (since that's what they've been instructed to believe), the vast majority of self-described Tea Partier are still doing very well...

  • 76% of Tea Party sympathizers reported their personal financial situation as fairly good or very good; 76% are married; 78% went to college; 84% are working or retired; and 92% are White.
  • Less than 6% of Tea Party sympathizers reported having to worry about buying food for their families in the past year compared to 39% of low-income voters, 37% of black voters and 21% of young voters.

Majority Views Ignored...

In covering some of the coverage of their new survey, titled "What Happened to Hope And Change: A Poll of 2008 Voters," Project Vote reports the following on its blog today, rounding up

“Lorraine C. Minnite, the author of the study, argues that the poll shows that the media is paying too much attention to the concerns of the mostly white and better-off Tea Party,” reported Linda Scott at PBS News Hour.
“We’ve all spent so much time dwelling on the slights and accusations of the Fox News crowd, there’s been shockingly little attention paid to the views, frustrations and convictions of what we might call the forgotten electorate, otherwise known as Obama’s base,” [The Nation's Chris Hayes] wrote.
Despite having personal finances that are far better than the national average, the majority of  "pessimistic" Tea Partiers rate the economy as "very bad." Yet black voters—who "are the most optimistic when it comes to the economy"—were most likely to report that there were times in the past year that they didn’t have enough money to buy food.

"While anti-spending rhetoric dominates the air waves...roughly one-third of voters from the last election support more government spending," wrote Jay Heflin at On the Money, the Hill’s finance and economy blog. "One issue facing the country is finding the revenue for entitlements. The poll found respondents were open to increasing taxes to keep these programs alive."

"That is the tragic and perilous irony of this political moment: the people with the most faith in the president and the Democratic Party are the hardest hit by the continuing economic disaster; it's this brute fact that's driving the so-called enthusiasm gap between liberals and conservatives," Hayes wrote. "More than frustration with the lack of a public option or anger at a White House that seems to relish insulting the ‘professional left,’ the flagging enthusiasm among Obama's '08 base is the product of a kind of cognitive dissonance between hope and reality."

And reality may hit all the harder come November, some say, not because the majorities don’t believe in an equitable economy, but because they feel defeated and largely ignored.

"I am just about fed up with all the Tea Party triumphalism coming out of the primary elections," wrote Eli at Firedoglake, an online news site. "But as the media often forgets, the GOP is not America, and a majority of Republican voters is not the same as a majority of all voters...And most amazing of all, when you compare their responses to the country as a whole, it turns out that [black, low-income, and youth voters are] a lot more mainstream and representative of America than the tea partiers are."

"So yeah, it looks to me like most Americans are okay with the government doing more than just making the world safe for corporations and rich people."

"These findings challenge the notion that [deficit] reduction is the number one priority of the Tea Party," wrote assistant professor at George Washington University Elizabeth Rigby at the Huffington Post. "Instead, it seems that their support for spending cuts rests more on an opposition to redistributive, safety-net programs as personified in a sign held up at a Tea Party rally that cried out: ‘Redistribute my work ethic.’ Understanding these underlying views are likely to provide more insight into the Tea Party movement than focusing on the deficit trope the Tea Party continues to emphasize."

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