Ed at Hot Air pretty much says it perfectly, so I'm just going to piggyback on him.
For the past few months, media outlets have described Tea Party followers as racist, reactionary, Birthers, and just about every insult one could find in the dictionary. CNN’s Anderson Cooper helped popularize a sexual slur as a description for the group that others in the media continue to use: teabaggers. However, a new poll by the Winston Group of a thousand registered voters returned some surprising results, including the fact that 13% of the Tea Party followers are Democrats:Racist, reactionary, teabagging Democrats, I guess...
The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.
The Winston Group conducted three national telephone surveys of 1,000 registered voters between December and February. Of those polled, 17 percent – more than 500 people — said they were “part of the Tea Party movement.” …
The group is united around two issues – the economy/jobs and reducing the deficit. They believe that cutting spending is the key to job creation and favor tax cuts as the best way to stimulate the economy. That said 61 percent of Tea Party members believe infrastructure spending creates jobs. Moreover, given the choice Tea Party members favor 63-32 reducing unemployment to 5 percent over balancing the budget.
Then Gallup has a poll showing that Tea Party's are actually a pretty decent demographic representation of America:
Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That's the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.
Interestingly, a Rasmussen poll puts the Tea Party movement up against Obama himself:
On major issues, 48% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than President Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own.
Not surprisingly, Republicans overwhelmingly feel closer to the Tea Party and most Democrats say that their views are more like Obama’s. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 50% say they’re closer to the Tea Party while 38% side with the President.
The Tea Party vs Congress numbers are more laughable: 47% to 26%.
Dan Quayle is worried about the Tea Party 'going Perot', i.e. becoming a spoiler in upcoming elections.
There's a well-worn path of third-party movements in American history, and it leads straight to a dead end. A cause gathers strength, and its message speaks to millions; then, amid the excitement, a new political party is born, only to perform poorly on Election Day and disappear a cycle or two later. In practice, all that's achieved is a fragmenting of the vote, usually to the benefit of whichever major party the movement had set out to oppose.
Personally, I'm not pro Tea Party-Party. I think Dan is essentially correct about 3rd parties; we've seen it happen in the past. I would rather the TP movement focus on influencing the existing party that they most resemble ideologically, which is the GOP. If these numbers are anything to go by, maybe Dan should be warning the Republican Party not to 'go Perot'.