Thanks to Greg Mitchell’s Twitter feed, I know far more about the New York Times/CBS News poll of tea-party supporters than I would have if I’d relied solely on the Times’ polite take. (The Times does better with an interactive presentation of the complete results.) What you really want to do is check out CBS News’ coverage, starting here. A few findings that are worth pondering:
- Fewer than half — 41 percent — believe President Obama was born in the United States. Thirty percent flatly declare that Obama was born in another country, and another 29 percent don’t know. In other words, 59 percent of tea-partiers are either hard-core or soft-core birthers.
- Then again, 32 percent of Republicans believe Obama was born in another country.
- Eighteen percent of Americans identify with the tea-party movement, and just one percent of them are black. Not surprisingly, 52 percent of this overwhelmingly white group say that too much is made of the problems facing black people, and one-fourth believe the Obama administration favors blacks over whites.
- Fifty-four percent are Republicans, and 41 percent are independents. Given that 73 percent say they’re conservatives, it stands to reason that most of the independents are politically to the right of where they perceive the Republican Party to be. Just 5 percent say they are Democrats.
- Sixty-four percent believe a flat-out falsehood (other than the birther falsehood): that taxes for most Americans have risen during the Obama presidency. In fact, they have fallen.
- And here’s the explanation: 63 percent say they get most of their news from the Fox News Channel, and large majorities hold favorable view of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
- While anger is a prime motivating factor, tea-party “activists” turn out to be even angrier than mere supporters: 72 percent of activists are mad as hell, compared to 53 percent of supporters.
Conclusion: Anyone who thinks the tea-party movement isn’t motivated by racial fears is deluding him- or herself.