There are many interesting things to be found in a new ABC News-Washington Post poll on the Tea Party "movement", but this may be the most enlightening of all:
The new movement is also relatively small, with 8 percent of supporters claiming to be "active participants" -- about 2 percent of the total population.
That massive "grass roots" movement you've been hearing about? The one covered 24/7 by Fox "News"? That enormous groundswell of disaffected Americans?
Not only is almost nobody bothering to attend these relentlessly promoted tea parties, but the more people hear about them, the less they care:
That conclusion, backed by numbers from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, also suggests that the tea party may have little room for growth. Most Americans -- including large majorities of those who don't already count themselves as supporters -- say they're not interested in learning more about the movement. A sizable share of those not already sympathetic to the tea party also say that the more they hear, the less they like the movement.
Check out the "neutrals" in the above chart. If this isn't people screaming "STFU about the damn Tea Party already!", I don't know what is.
This is what has dominated so many news cycles for the past year? A "movement" that, with the aid of non-stop promotion by the highest-rated news network and the entire rightwing radio and internet apparatus--not to mention a lousy economy and a pissed off population in general--can only muster 2% turnout?
I'm guessing that may be why we've been hearing about them a bit less lately: I really think that Fox et al finally recognized a shitty business model when they saw one, and decided to move on to more lucrative pastures.
The poll's other results confirm the demographics everybody always knew about, but for some reason needs to be repeatedly confirmed by polls:
Supporters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents...
All that aside, there's also some results that confirm something else we all suspected--that the Tea Party is basically just siphoning away support from the GOP:
The percentage of people who say the Democratic Party represents their personal values and is in tune with the problems of people like themselves hasn't changed since November. The percentage siding with the GOP, however, has dropped by almost precisely the numbers now siding with the tea party.
Some 14 percent of Americans say the tea party is most in sync with their values, nearly matching the 15 percentage-point drop-off for the GOP over the past five months.
Hard to say what, if any, effect that will have in November. It's quite possible that conservatives will "come home" to the GOP, as people often do when it's time to actually vote.
Still, it's a good idea to keep some of these numbers in mind the next time the media tries to tell you that the country is rising up in protest. Actually, they're not. When it comes to the Tea Party, the country is yawning and going back to sleep.