Monday, April 12, 2010

The Political Centrist Claims Tea Parties "Centrist"

I found this article at a website called The Political Centrist. I thought the website sounded interesting because it stated that it contained "news and views for independent voters," but reading the headlines, it appeared to be another right wing propaganda cite claiming to be for the, well, centrist or moderate. The article in particular that I am writing about was titled "Is The Tea Party Made Up Of Centrists?"

I laughed when I saw the title. I made myself a bet that the article was going to claim that the Tea Party was indeed a bunch of moderates mislabeled by the liberals, although I hoped it would actually contain some a little more interesting then that. My first assumption was correct.
The Winston Group conducted a survey of the Tea Party group and found results that contrast with what you hear on the news. The Democrats have been attempting to portray the Tea Party protesters as extremists, extreme right wing, even a racist organization. News organizations have sometimes parroted these talking points. The Winston Group survey, perhaps the first to try to characterize who makes up the Tea Party, found hints that at least part of the members may be centrists politically.
This is how the article starts off. They are setting up the article to basically read that the Tea Parties are a diverse group of people. They even throw in some statistics that I will get to in a bit, but first, I would like to quote more of the article.
The Democrats have tried to label the Tea Party as an extreme group. Recent protests over health care were peaceful although their were claims of individuals using slurs against Congressmen. We at were not at these protests to confirm or refute these claims. It is reasonable to say, from press reports, that it appeared there might have been a few individuals acting inappropriately. Thus branding the whole group as extreme seems quite unreasonable. The history of the group and its protests do not support the rhetoric Democrats have used against the group.

The survey seems to support the views the Tea Party is a much more mainstream organization. The Tea Party members viewed the economy and jobs as the most important shared concerns. This is not inconsistent with a portion of the group being made up of centrists. While centrists may not share the extreme views of the liberals and conservatives, a concern about government spending and jobs is a quite mainstream, and a centrist view.

It is possible the majority of the Tea Party are not centrists, but conservatives. This is probably the case as most members identified themselves as Republicans.

The survey results certainly would seem to call into question the assertions of Democrats and some of the main stream press. If anything, the Democrats should be alarmed by the finding that a significant fraction is from their own ranks. Another significant fraction comes from independents, a crucial voting group needed for electoral victory for both the Democrats and Republicans.

If a large fraction if the Tea Party is in fact centrist in their orientation, then perhaps they will be the engine for getting more moderate elected officials. And maybe then, just maybe, we could get some bipartisanship in DC.
Now let me get to these numbers. The article cites a poll done by The Winston Group, claiming that 28% of Tea Partiers were Independents and 13% were Democrats. 57% identified themselves as Republicans. According to the article, 13% is a "significant" amount of people - especially for an unorganized collection of groups that number in the thousands out of a total population of over 300 million. Putting that aside, the numbers alone are oversimplified, and the article somewhat addressed that. What I thought interesting was that the article claims the Tea Party is centrist, while liberals and moderates are extremist.

Conservative sites seemed to enjoy this poll because it furthered their agenda by claiming the Tea Parties were representative of all America, yet when compared to the overall population, the Tea Party is overwhelmingly conservative. What is even more interesting, which you probably won't see on any of the conservative sites that use this poll as supporting evidence, is that "Tea Party members tend to get their news about national issues from Fox News - some 47% of Tea Party members in the December - February surveys list Fox News as one of their top one or two sources of news, compared to 19% of the sample overall." It's nice to see that they are getting their news from the same source.

What this poll proves is that the Tea Party is not "centrist" and that the Tea Party is an extension of the Republican Party, with Fox News acting as a propaganda wing.

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