According to a Public Religion Research Institute study released today, Tea Party supporters tend to be members of the religious right — though not all members of the religious right are Tea Party supporters. (Get it?)
Much of the media coverage has followed the Tea Party movement’s own narrative, which describes it as a grassroots group of libertarian-leaning and independent-minded Americans who have grown disgusted with Washington – a group not beholden to either party, willing to buck conventional politics to get things done.
Our 2010 American Values Survey, released today, turns much of this received wisdom on its head, while confirming a few salient facts.
As expected, Americans who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement are significantly more non-Hispanic white than the general population (80 percent vs. 69 percent of Americans overall). They are conservative, strong supporters of small government. Eighty percent have a favorable view of Sarah Palin, and 57 percent say they trust Fox News most to give them accurate information about politics and current events.
Incidentally, I just can’t get past the fact that this populist movement’s name sounds like something small children do for fun with their imaginary friends. (At least they’re not calling themselves Tea Baggers anymore!) When kids read about this in their history textbooks (not just in Texas) years from now, will they take it more seriously than it sounds?