The Not-So-White Tea Party
A while back, USA Today had a new poll on Tea Party supporters. Near the top of both the article and the accompanying graphic is this point, also singled out by the Washington Post, in their report on the study...
"They are overwhelmingly white and Anglo,"
That not too surprising, perhaps. Economic conservatives, I've heard, are more white than the national average. But wait - there's more to that sentence from the Washington Post...
"although a scattering of Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans combine to make up almost one-fourth of their ranks."
When did "almost one-fourth of their ranks" become "a scattering"? Sounds like a pretty good chunk to me, especially in a country that is, after all, still mostly white.
USA Today reported that 77% percent of Tea Party supporters are "non-Hispanic whites." Well, according to a 2008 U.S. Census Report, the United States as a whole is 65% non-Hispanic white. So, the Tea Party is indeed somewhat more "white" than the country at large, but not by that much. Twelve points above the national average is not "overwhelmingly white, " and 23% percent Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans is not "a scattering." At a rough estimate, that means that about 14,000,000 non-Anglo Americans support the Tea Party movement.
Now, how does this compare to the demographics of other movements? Strangely enough, there doesn't seem to be any real data on the demographics of the environmentalist movement, for example. Maybe pollsters and mainstream journalists don't want to know. But, here's a report that 84% of the visitors to the Sierra Club website are Caucasian (http://www.quantcast.com/sierraclub.org). For those who don't know, the Sierra Club is the country's oldest grassroots environmentalist organization. There's a similiar implication here (http://angeles.sierraclub.org/news/SS_2010-02/diversity.asp). And here's a story on the environmentalist movement's desperate attempt to seem not so "overwhelmingly white" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/science/earth/10move.html?_r=1). Yet, somehow, journalists don't focus on that obvious fact about the environmentalist movement.
Instead, they keep describing the Tea Party movement as "overwhelmingly white," even when the data suggests a different conclusion.