Despite their apparent anger over government spending on social programs, the vast majority of tea party participants have never worried about putting food on their family's table, according to a new poll.
In a survey of Americans who voted in 2008, the nonpartisan group Project Vote found that, by and large, those sympathetic to the tea parties were white, wealthy and affluent people, whose political views represent approximately 29 percent of the electorate.
By comparison, blacks, youths and low-income voters, who turned out in record numbers to support President Obama, make up 32 percent of the electorate -- and their views could not be any more different than their conservative counterparts.
In the poll's headline findings, Project Vote summarized:
• More voters agree that, "government should work to provide for the needs of all citizens" than they do with the statement that, "government should do no more than provide national defense and police protection, so that people are left alone to earn whatever they can."
• A majority favor requiring wealthy Americans to pay more social security taxes and taxes on investments.
• A clear majority believe that to address the federal budget deficit, combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan should be ended.
• A clear majority think government should spend more or the same on income security programs such as food stamps.
• A strong majority think government should spend less on tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
• A strong majority trust the federal government to ensure that banks and credit card companies treat customers fairly and to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices.
• A strong majority believe the minimum wage should be raised.
• They overwhelmingly plan to vote in 2010.
By contrast, Project Vote described tea party participants as "overwhelmingly white" and "universally dissatisfied," even though having "the least reason for dissatisfaction."
"Only six percent [of tea party participants] reported having to worry about buying food for their families in the past year, compared to 14 percent of voters nationwide, 37 percent of blacks, 21 percent of youths, and 39 percent of low-income voters," they added.
Increased government spending on infrastructure, education and welfare programs like food stamps and Social Security were favored by large majorities of the electorate but disdained by the tea parties, the poll also found. Similarly, most respondents felt the government should do more to bolster the economy and secure Americans' well being, whereas tea party conservatives wanted less spending and smaller taxes.
The findings seem to indicate that corporate networks like Fox News have largely ignored majority views in America, instead dedicating large amounts of time to covering the wealthy, vocal tea party minority.
"Analysis of the findings from around the net also underscores what we've long argued," blogger Brad Friedman opined. "[The] Tea Baggers don't actually give a damn about 'the deficit' or even the Constitution. If they did, they wouldn't have waited until after Republicans lost the elections in 2008 to start marching and decrying the deficit explosion (and supposed concerns about Constitutional rights) brought about under the previous Administration. They would have been out marching along with the real Tea Partiers, those who supported Ron Paul as long ago as 2007, and his concerns about unbridled deficit spending and the trampling of Constitutional rights during the eight years of the Bush Administration."
The survey accounted for views expressed by 1,947 Americans who voted in 2008. It carried a margin of error at plus or minus three percent.