As the Washington Post's Chris Cilliza reported earlier this month, media coverage characterizing the so-called tea party movement as politically independent is wrong. A July 2 Gallup poll found that nearly 70% of tea party supporters identified themselves as "conservative Republicans."
"Asked whether they would support a generic Republican or a generic Democrat for Congress this fall, 80 percent of tea party supporters chose the GOP candidate, while 15 percent opted for the Democrat," Cilliza reported.
Gallup findings echoed those of Resurgent Republic, a conglomerate of Republican polling firms.
... in the fall campaign, when faced with a choice not between two Republicans but between a Republican and a Democrat, the Gallup data seem to suggest that the tea party crowd will opt for the GOP candidates in large numbers.
Why? Because they are, at heart, Republicans -- only by a different name at the moment. Or, as, Newport puts it: "Republican leaders who worry about the Tea Party's impact on their races may in fact (and more simply) be defined as largely worrying about their party's core base."
Also earlier this month the NAACP passed a resolution condemning displays of racism by tea partiers. In apparent response, prominent tea partier Mark Williams posted a supposedly "satirical" letter on his web site. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson posted some excerpts:
We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!
Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government 'stop raising our taxes.' That is outrageous! How will we coloreds ever get a wide-screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society? Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.
As Robinson notes, "That's not satire, it's hate speech."
To its credit, the National Tea Party federation expelled Williams and his group, the Tea Party Express. But, as Robinson and others wondered, did tea party officials never notice Williams's racist rhetoric before?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," declined to offer an opinion. "I am not interested in getting into that debate," McConnell said. "... I have got better things to do than to wade in to all of these disputes and discussions that are going on out in the country." On NBC's "Meet the Press," National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, "I think it's slanderous to suggest the vast movement of citizens who have gotten off the couch and showed up at town hall meetings and tea party events, somehow to smear them with this label, there's just no basis for it."