The NYT’s Tea Party Survey

The New York Times conducted a survey aimed at learning more about the demographics and political preferences of Tea Party supporters. They found that tea party supporters were wealthier and better educated than the general public. They were also more conservative that other Republicans. I can't resist picking apart their survey.

Tparty1 Let's look at their finding that Tea Party supporters are better educated and wealthier than the general population. 

They shouldn't have compared the Tea Party supporters with the general population. They should have compared Tea Party supporters with other political involved individuals who vote regularly, are highly informed about political affairs, and have participated in a protest or rally. Highly informed and politically active individuals are a small subset of the American public, and they are much better educated and more wealthy than the general public. A minuscule percent of Americans has attended a political rally; it's sometime like 5%. If someone knows what the tea party movement is, even if they haven't even gone to one of their rallies, they represent a small, elite fraction of the American public.

The New York Times failed to compare Tea Party supporters with other politically involved Americans. So, their findings about the comparative wealth and education of the Tea Party supporters are meaningless.

11 thoughts on “The NYT’s Tea Party Survey

  1. So, their findings about the comparative wealth and education of the Tea Party supporters are meaningless.
    But, kind of suggestive given that you don’t see very big differences on education and income. I can’t recall any political movement with only 9% under-representation for those with a high school education or less. Maybe SEIU still hits that at some rallies.

  2. Your point is well taken. But isn’t it true that Tea Partiers, or their publicists, are trying to frame the movement in anti-elitist terms? They want us to believe that they are just “ordinary folks.” They’re not, as you say, but demonstrating that fact is, at least, politically useful….

  3. I personally thought the point of the article wasn’t so much accurate comparison of politically active groups, but an attack on the populist image that the Tea Party has (either self-generated or assigned).
    You can assign either noble or mean-spirited motives to that project as you wish. (I know which motives my relatives who are sympathetic if not supporters of the Tea Party will pick.)

  4. But laura’s point is data driven. I think she’s agreeing that the surveydoesnot show what the nyt concluded, that they are “better educated, richer”

  5. The TP people are better educated and wealthier than the American average; generally speaking, people who attend political rallies of any color are better educated and wealthier than the American average. I don’t see why a comparison between TP and the public as a whole should be meaningless, but the second par is worth pointing out.

  6. A minuscule percent of Americans has attended a political rally; it’s sometime like 5%.
    But considerably more have attended political fundraisers. Or, maybe that’s just my misperception being an Illinois resident (people tend to be real political animals here—in both the good and bad senses of that). Also, what counts as a “political rally” matters; union rallies that have speakers on legislation or budget issues pertinent to their members and/or have politicans as speakers may not be considered a “political rally” under the terms of a survey (depending on who is conducting it, or for whom), but would universally be considered a “political rally” by the members attending.

  7. bj, agreed that Laura’s point is more data driven. I guess I just see it as an intentional misrepresentation, as opposed to a poor understanding of the proper use of demographic statistics and comparisons. (Of course, that may also apply, given the state of stats knowledge in the press.)

  8. I’m in DC, and have had an interesting experience wandering the town and encountering Obama signage of a kind I don’t usually encounter. It is nice to live in a free country, and, as my husband said, as I was eying some people, he’s going to defend their right to have obnoxious t-shirts as far as necessary.
    We drove by the Tea Party rally on the Mall today, hearing the “no taxes, less government” rhetoric over the loud speakers. My daughter turned to me and said, “but, aren’t taxes how we pay for stuff?” , right before we drove by the IRS building, with the words “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society” (Holmes) engraved above the door. From the paraphernalia (flags, t-shirts, . . .) the groups certainly did seem to have expendable income.

  9. “…right before we drove by the IRS building, with the words “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society” (Holmes) engraved above the door.”
    If we had Oliver Wendell Holmes quotes on more DC buildings, maybe “Three generations of imbeciles are enough” could go on Health and Human Services.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s