Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:06 pm

“On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans.”

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 9:06 pm
Tags: ,

Those pointy-headed academics, always messing the narrative up with their pesky facts:

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.

Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right. …

Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later. We can also account for multiple influences simultaneously — isolating the impact of one factor while holding others constant. …

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

This inclination among the Tea Party faithful to mix religion and politics explains their support for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Their appeal to Tea Partiers lies less in what they say about the budget or taxes, and more in their overt use of religious language and imagery, including Mrs. Bachmann’s lengthy prayers at campaign stops and Mr. Perry’s prayer rally in Houston.

Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity.

Obviously, not every self-identified Tea Partier fits this profile. But this research is long, wide and deep — and it strongly suggests that federal officials without large, self-identified Tea Party segments in their electorate are vulnerable.

Read the whole piece. It also strongly suggests that those of us who have dismissed the Tea Party as an artificial phenomenon, equal parts big-money GOP artifice and stupefying levels of Teh_Stoopid, were correct. Yeah, I’m gloating. Suck it.


Friday, October 31, 2008 10:58 am

The fat lady ain’t even warming up

Filed under: Fun,Journalism — Lex @ 10:58 am
Tags: , , , ,

Rem Rieder at American Journalism Review points out something that everyone working in news media ought already have taken to heart but hasn’t:

… it’s important to remember that polls are just polls. They are not predictive; they are only snapshots of reality at a specific moment. They can change quickly. …

… you don’t have to go back to the dreaded time before Twitter, iPhones and Scarlett Johannson to find instances where the conventional wisdom was utterly wrong. I remember vividly when Hillary Clinton had a lock on the nomination, when John McCain was toast in the Republican primary, when Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani were formidable forces, when Obama was going to seal the deal in New Hampshire.

News media aren’t as good at predictions as they think they are.* Pollsters — reputable ones, anyway — don’t even claim to be predicting the future; in fact, most caution against it. News media and opining pundits alike should stow the predictions and wait for election night.

*The one notable exception to this rule was my friend and colleague Ed Hardin’s incredibly prescient column published the day of Super Bowl XXIX between San Francisco and San Diego. Not only did he predict a 49ers blowout, here’s exactly what he predicted:

  • Ed’s score prediction: 49ers 49, Chargers 16. Actual score: 49ers 49, Chargers 26.
  • Ed’s prediction: Steve Young would pass for 386 yards. Actual yardage: 325.
  • Ed’s prediction: Steve Young would pass for five TDs. Actual number: six.
  • Ed’s prediction: Jerry Rice would catch three TD passes. Actual number: three.
  • Ed’s prediction: Ricky Watters would catch two TD passes and run for a third TD. Actual numbers: two TD catches, one run TD.
  • Ed’s prediction: Natrone Means would rush for a TD. Actually: Means rushed for a TD.

To be fair, Ed was off on a couple of things, mainly that there would be a storm of biblical proportions at halftime and that a horse would break free along the sidelines, scattering photographers and cameramen in its path.

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