PRINCETON, NJ -- Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That's the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.
Tea Party supporters are decidedly Republican and conservative in their leanings. Also, compared with average Americans, supporters are slightly more likely to be male and less likely to be lower-income.
In several other respects, however -- their age, educational background, employment status, and race -- Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large.
A Uniformly Negative Reaction to Health Bill
Over the past year, Tea Party movement activists -- originally kindled by grass-roots opposition to the economic stimulus bill and taxpayer bailouts of homeowners -- came out strongly against the Democrats' national healthcare reform plans. That stance is evident in the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, in which 87% of Tea Party supporters -- versus 50% of all Americans -- say they consider passage of healthcare reform a bad thing.
While opposition to the healthcare bill is perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Tea Party supporters in the new poll, their views on abortion are also notable. Nearly two-thirds consider themselves "pro-life" on the abortion issue, compared with 46% of all national adults.
More generally, a separate question included in the March 26-28 poll showed that 37% of Americans view the Tea Party movement favorably and 40% unfavorably, with the remainder expressing no opinion. Predictably, Republicans and conservatives are most likely to have favorable opinions.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,033 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 26-28, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.