Information

academic site|c.v.


e-mail
columns
legal
RSS .92| RSS 2.0
Follow PoliBlog on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

Glenn Reynolds notes in a Washington Examiner column:

A year ago, the Tea Party movement didn’t exist. Today, it is arguably the most popular political entity in America. The movement is already more popular than the Republican or Democratic parties, according to a recent NBC / WSJ poll .

I presume he is referring to the December 2009 NBC/WSJ poll done by  Hart/McInturff (a well respected, bipartisan poll) [PDF here] which showed the following:

14b. As you may know, this year saw the start of something known as the Tea Party movement. In this movement, citizens, most of whom are conservatives, participated in demonstrations in Washington, DC, and other cities, protesting government spending, the economic stimulus package, and any type of tax increases. From what you know about this movement, is your opinion of it very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative? If you do not know enough to have an opinion, please say so.
Very positive ………………………………20
Somewhat positive ……………………..21
Neutral ……………………………………….21
Somewhat negative …………………….10
Very negative………………………………13
Don’t have opinion/not sure ………..15

This sums to a 41% positive and only a 23% negative and 36% neutral/don’t know.

Now, this is better than the Republicans and Democrats fare in the poll, to be sure.  Specifically, the GOP had a 28% combined very/somewhat positive and the Democrats 35%.

As such, it is fair to state that in this poll, the Tea Party movement has better numbers.  However, the implications of those numbers are not what Reynolds (or others1 ) claim.

One of the reasons that it is difficult to impute serious popularity to the Tea Party movement from this poll (and specifically the question above) is the question that immediately precedes it in the poll:

14a. How much do you know about the Tea Party movement––do you know a great deal about this, a fair amount, just some, very little, or nothing at all?
Know a great deal ………………………..7
Know a fair amount …………………….22
Know just some …………………………..23
Know very little …………………….……25
Know nothing at all ……………………..23
Not sure ………………………………………-

The percentage of persons in the poll knowing “a great deal/a fair amount” about the movement in question is only 29%, while the percentage knowing “very little/nothing at all” is 48% (which goes to 71% if we include “just some”).  As such, it is rather difficult to truly assess the public’s approval/disapproval of the Tea Party movement since the public, on balance, doesn’t have enough information to form an opinion.

The real test will be electoral in nature, and at a minimum we will need to see what happens in November to begin to understand what the Tea Party movement is or isn’t.  Indeed, unless the Tea Party actually takes its name seriously and starts to run its own candidates, it will be difficult to totally disaggregate the exact effect of Tea Party activists from other variables.

I would further note that we have two elections to date that could be said to have been under the influence of the Tea Party movement:  the special election in NY23 and the special election in the Massachusetts senate race.   Based on that meager data set we have one election in which the Tea Party preferred candidate lost (and indeed, helped to elect the Democrat) and one in which the Tea Party preferred candidate won (i.e., Brown over Coakley).  That is not enough to conclude much of anything.  Certainly not enough for Reynolds to conclude the following (based on the Brown win):

So far the Tea Party’s record is looking pretty good.

[…]

But whether the political class likes it or not, this sort of thing is probably here to stay. While 2009 was the year of denigrating and ignoring the tea parties, I suspect that in 2010, they’ll be listened to quite closely. Those who fail to do so, are likely to find themselves out of a job.

We shall see.  If the Tea Parties are able to have a direct and obvious effect on the process (apart from the aforementioned running of their own candidates) it will be in the primaries (presumably the Republican primaries).  However, if they are successful in affecting the type of candidates nominated by the GOP, that may not have the effect on the outcomes that Reynolds (and the Tea Party) prefers.  See, for example, NY23.

  1. I saw Dick Armey cite these numbers and imply something similar on TV last week. []
Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off|
The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author.

Comments are closed.


blog advertising is good for you

Visitors Since 2/15/03


Take a Look At This!
Inquiries
Blogroll
Wikio - Top of the Blogs - Politics
---


Advertisement

Advertisement


Powered by WordPress