You might think you know who those “Tea Party” voters are. But, you’re probably wrong.
John Avlon, writing in the Daily Beast, lays out five misconceptions about the tea party movement.
For one, they’re not independent voters.
Polls of independents' policy positions consistently place them in between Republicans and Democrats—closer to the GOP on economic issues and closer to the Democrats on social issues. But the Tea Partiers tend to be to the right of the Republican Party on both fiscal and social issues. Their opposition to the Obama administration is overheated and absolute. Independents are angry at the polarization of the two parties; Tea Partiers want more polarization between the two parties. Independents tend to be centrists; Tea Partiers attack centrist Republicans as Republicans in Name Only, or RINOs. Tea Partiers are conservative populists.
He also says you’re mistaken if you dismiss them as a fringe element.
The guys with the Obama-as-Hitler signs get all the attention, for obvious reasons, but the reality is that the Tea Parties began as a fiscal conservative protest in response to the $787 billion stimulus amid bailout backlash. Their ranks are full of folks who've never attended a protest before, small businesses owners who were angry at the way they were struggling to pay their bills while big business and big government could rack up debts and pass the buck onto taxpayers in backroom deals. There is common-sense anger at unsustainable deficits that are seen as generational theft.
He also says “Tea Partiers” are not all Libertarians and they are more likely to be co-opted by the GOP instead of taking over that party.