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Texas Has Second-Most Tea Partiers of Any State

by: Ben Sherman

Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM CST

"Tea Partiers are more than minions for millionaires, or the sum of ballots cast on Election Day," the author of a new report on the Tea Party says. "They are not illusions created by public relations magicians. Over the last five years, real people have been involved in real activities aimed at impacting politics, culture, and civil society in negative ways," he added.

Dave Berghart and other social scientists at the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights conducted an extensive nonpartisan study, "The Status of the Tea Party: Membership, Support and Sympathy by the Numbers," over the last year. At 39,442 members, the study found, has the second-most Tea Partiers of any state. That's not entirely surprising, as Texas members have been particularly vocal and offensive since the Tea Party began almost five years ago.

More findings below the jump.

There is a misunderstanding in what opponents classify as the "astro-turf" Tea Party. No one disputes that they have not-insignificant numbers of rabid right-wingers on their side. What is a matter of fact is that many of their events and organizations are funded by corporatists like the Koch brothers who have a vested interest in the Tea Party's anti-taxation, anti-regulation message. In many ways, the Tea Party was not allowed to be anything else because their funding came in so intensely and so early from the vested money interests.

The Tea Party is very much alive, at least in membership numbers, but it doesn't have much room to grow. "It is a complex and contradictory situation," said Burghart. "But we now know that two different trends have emerged: the core of the movement has hardened and grown, even as sympathy for the movement has leveled off and opposition has increased. The middle ground is shrinking further every day."

Whether one thinks the Tea Party is thriving in getting its national agenda across -- or stopping the national agenda of others -- is a different story. Republicans were hamstringing Congress well before the Tea Party was the force it is now. In the years since 2009's angry Tea Party presence over the Affordable Care Act at town halls, extreme opposition to President Obama has been given the "Tea Party" title. Paying heed to the Tea Party is a way for people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to secure a vocal segment of the country.

Acknowledging the reality of the Tea Party doesn't really change anything. The Tea Party is a right wing, at least half-corporatist, segment of American politics. Proof of their politics' (and politicians') instability is evident over each year they've been in existence. What's most impactful, perhaps, is seeing how long they've sustained themselves, the negative effects (shutting down the government's a peachy example), and wondering what Occupy Wall Street could have done had it run candidates.

Some other findings in the report:

Despite sagging public sympathy post-shutdown, core membership in the national Tea Party factions remains high, at over half a million people. Last year, membership growth slowed to roughly four percent. Membership is geographically concentrated in the South, with than 42% of overall membership in the region.

The level of Tea Party supporters also rose, particularly on social media. The combined total for national Tea Party Facebook likes was 7,683,327, and Twitter followers totaled 382,240.

Recalcitrance regarding the shutdown of the federal government and other issues caused general sympathy for the Tea Party to decline at the end of 2013, to 18% to 30% of the American public. Even has membership has grown, the ratio of men to women in the Tea Party movement remains remarkably consistent, with roughly two-thirds of the membership identified as men.

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tea partiers (0.00 / 0)
There's another reason it's not surprising that Texas has the second-most number of teabaggers:  it has the second-most number of PEOPLE of any state (and a full seven million more people than the #3 state).  As a matter of fact, since it has 8.4% of the US population, you would expect it to have 8.4% of the teabaggers.  Taking the estimate of "over 500,000" members nationwide and rounding that down to "only" 500,000, Texas would be expected to have 41,800 members just to be comparable in per capita registration to other states; so 39,400 members seems a little LESS fascist than the national norm.  The South as a whole is more fascist than the norm, but not necessarily as much as this article implies:  it has 37% of the population of the US and 42% of the Dark Side alliance.

I'm not underestimating the seriousness of the situation:  I cannot imagine any civilized democracy in the world sporting anything like these numbers.  But statistics should be used carefully, lest they mislead.

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