Any moment now, I expect an answer to the question I posed to a frequent visitor: what do teabaggers believe, and why? While she composes her answer and we await the result, here are some data that might be helpful, both to her and to those of us anxious to learn. It's a survey done by some researchers just around the corner, at U Dub:
Are Tea Party Conservatives different from other Conservatives?
We sought to investigate this question in response to critiques leveled by conservatives such as David Brooks, David Frum, and most recently George Will and Michael Medved. Each, it seems, question the strategies, if not always the philosophy, of groups affiliated with the Right, including the Tea Party. More to the point, these commentators suggest that the Tea Party, as a whole, holds opinions at variance with more mainstream conservatives, opinions that may hurt the Republican party in the next election cycle. Others on the Right, such as Peggy Noonan and Juan Williams, view the Tea Party as a net positive. Noonan sees the movement is a “critique” of the Republican party; Williams sees it as a reflection of mainstream concerns of Americans. Which view is closer to the truth? The data suggest that differences abound....
....6% of non-Tea Party conservatives believe the president is destroying the country versus the 71% of Tea Party conservatives who believe this to be true.(click here for full results.)...
...When asked about President Obama’s religious orientation, 27% of Tea Party conservatives believe that Obama is a practicing Muslim compared to 16% of non- Tea Party conservatives, both relatively low; nevertheless, an 11-point difference. More conservative type believe the president a practicing Christian, 27% of Tea Party conservatives versus 46% of non-Tea Party conservatives, but the gap here is even larger: 19%. When it comes to President Obama’s national origin, 40% of Tea Party conservatives believe that Obama was born in the U.S. compared to 55% of non-Tea Party conservatives. Additionally, 26% of Tea Party conservatives believe that President Obama does not have a birth certificate, while 17% of non-Tea Party conservatives believe this to be the case. (click here for full results.) ...
... We also found that conservatives were more likely to view President Obama as alien if they believed themselves to be interviewed by someone white than a non-white interviewer. (click here for the results.)
All of the above support the claims made by Brooks, Frum, Will, and Medved that Tea Party conservatives are out of step with more mainstream conservatives. Moreover, these findings at the mass level validate what we’ve found at the elite level in an ongoing content analysis of the Tea Party. In short, the data suggest that there is an emerging split among conservatives. If this is true, how will this affect Republicans come 2012?
To think teabaggers are not typical of the true Republican party would be reassuring, were it the case that they didn't have the influence they have on who gets nominated and elected, and what legislation moves forward in the current disaster known as the House of Representatives. What the survey doesn't seem to address is the numbers and influence of teabaggers, numbers be damned, among self-described Republicans who vote. Because whatever they choose to say to pollsters, the fact is that the Republican party, as evidenced by its representation in Congress, is composed of the extreme, and the extremely stupid, the vindictive, the hidebound, the fact-averse, the destructive.
So, in case the unthinkable happens -- namely, that my commenter fails to address the question I asked her -- we have data that tells us who the teabaggers are and what they believe. (The why isn't addressed: maybe academics simply couldn't stomach the horror of finding out.)
It's not anything even the most casual observer wouldn't have already known; and it's depressing as hell.