Eighteen percent of Americans consider themselves to be supporters of the Tea Party movement while 62 percent do not, with 20 percent undecided, and the muddled nature of perceptions of the movement is reflected in the finding that 25 percent believe it represents the views of most of the public while 36 percent do not and 37 percent don't know, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll
conducted April 5-12.
The poll oversampled people who described themselves as members of the movement and then weighted the results to be in proportion to the overall adult population. It also differentiated between movement "supporters" and those who actually donated money (2 percent) or attended a Tea Party rally (13 percent). Seventy-eight percent of Tea Party supporters said they had done neither.
Most Tea Party supporters say their main source of information about the movement is television (47 percent) and the Internet (24 percent).
Twenty-one percent of the overall public said the Tea Party movement was active in their communities.
The biggest news source for Tea party supporters was Fox News Channel (63 percent) compared to the 23 percent for the public at large.
Despite the fact that some in the Tea Party and conservative activist movements have said the 2010 Census is too intrusive
in its questions, there was not much difference between the general public and Tea Party activists about whether they'd fill out the forms. Ninety-five percent of the general public said they would or already had filled out the forms as did 97 percent of Tea Party supporters.
Forty-five percent of Tea Party supporters said that the main goal of the movement was to reduce the role of the federal government. Only 7 percent said they wanted to elect their own candidates.
Fifty-nine percent of self-described Tea Party supporters are men. Eighty-nine percent are white. They are roughly evenly split when it comes to education -- high school or less, some college and college graduates.
Fifty-six percent say their household incomes are over $50,000 a year while 35 percent say they are under that threshhold, with 20 percent earning over $100,000 a year.
Sixty-one percent are Protestants.
Those who identify themselves as Tea Party activists (those who say they have attended a rally or given money) are more angry about Washington than movement sympathizers by a 72 percent to 53 percent margin. About three-quarters of activists have favorable views of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, the conservative TV and radio talk show host, compared to movement supporters (66 percent have a favorable view of Palin and 59 percent of Glenn Beck.)
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