How Many Tea Party Members Drink Tea?
And does the group receive disproportionate media coverage?
by Orlando Dozier
According to Wikipedia: "In 1907, American tea merchant Thomas Sullivan began distributing samples of his tea in small bags of Chinese silk with a drawstring. Consumers noticed that they could simply leave the tea in the bag and re-use it with fresh tea. However, the potential of this distribution/packaging method would not be fully realized until later on. During World War II, tea was rationed. In 1953 (after rationing in the UK ended), Tetley launched the tea bag to the UK and it was an immediate success."
So how many tea party members actually drink tea?
Well, there was only one way to answer this question in that was to put it to the Internet Oracle, Google. When I searched for the phrase "what percentage of tea party members actually drink tea?" I got nothing.
I was able to find a study that was done in 2005, which asked the question to 1,008 Americans via telephone, "do you drink tea?". The response was 80% of Americans consider themselves tea drinkers.
Using these numbers to do some quick math I came to the following conclusions;
US population 310,000,000: Republican Party 21% (Republicans 65,100,000); Republicans Tea Party support 18% (Tea Party supporters 11,718,000); estimated Tea Party supporter members 60% (Estimated tea party members 7,030,800). Percentage of Americans that drink tea 8% (Tea Party member tea drinkers 562,464).Tea Party member teabag users 80%. True Tea Party tea drinkers 449,971. Please keep in mind that my analysis is based on Wikipedia data, along with some pure speculation.
Given these numbers (really, the total number of Tea Party members, not those who drink tea) it is amazing how much mainstream media is coverage they receive. The Tea Party movement represents less than 1% of the total population, according to my estimates. You would think the mainstream media would spend their resources on more pressing matters that impact the rest of us.
As a side note, if you want to do some more digging into real numbers that represent the tea party movement and the current state of the Republican Party, I would refer you to reading an excellent article written at the Washington Post, The Republican Shrinkage Problem.
The Republican Shrinkage Problem
The new Washington Post/ABC news poll has all sorts of intriguing numbers in it but when you are looking for clues as to where the two parties stand politically there is only one number to remember: 21.
That's the percent of people in the Post/ABC survey who identified themselves as Republicans, down from 25 percent in a late March poll and at the lowest ebb in this poll since the fall of 1983(!).
In that same poll, 35 percent self-identified as Democrats and 38 percent called them Independents.
These numbers come on the heels of Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager for Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential bid, declaring the Republican party a "shrinking entity" last week -- citing the decline of GOP numbers in the west, northeast and mountain west as evidence.
And they show a somewhat significant decline from even last November's election when exit polls showed 32 percent of voters identifying as Republican as compared to 39 percent for Democrats and 29 percent for independents and others. (A caveat: voters tend to see things through a more partisan lens after having just voted in a presidential election than they do in an April poll.)
The Post poll numbers show the challenge for Republicans in stark terms.
The number of people who see themselves as GOPers is on the decline even as those who remain within the party grow more and more conservative.
That means that the loyal base of the party has an even larger voice in terms of the direction it heads even as more and more empirical evidence piles up that the elevation of voices like former vice president Dick Cheney does little to win over wavering Republicans or recruit Independents back to the GOP cause.
Put simply: Republicans find themselves stuck between a political Scylla and Charybdis -- with apologies to the Police.
By Chris Cillizza
April 27, 2009