Poll: (Some) Tea Partiers Actually Like Obama

Flickr/<a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/streetprotesttv/3956555851/" target="_blank">Street Protest TV</a> (Creative Commons)

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Earlier Nick Baumann highlighted the Winston Group’s new survey about the Tea Party, which revealed that Tea Partiers are largely old, white, male, andget this!conservative. No kidding. But taking a closer look at the Winston Group studyand a similar set of numbers released today by GallupI noticed something kind of funny: Considering the movement purports to counter the perceived “socialism” of his policies, President Obama is actually quite popular among the Tea Partiers. According to the Winston Group, 17 percent of Tea Partiers approve of the job Obama has been doing. Another 15 percent approve of the job Congressional Democrats have been doing, which, while not exactly a ringing endorsement, makes Democrats considerably more popular among Tea Partiers than Republicans. There’s a similar quirk in the Gallup poll: A whopping 12 percent of Tea Partiers believe the Affordable Care Act was a “good thing.” Merlin’s pants!

What could Tea Partiers possibly like about Obama? That’s the obvious mystery here, but I’m willing to speculate a little bit. Since much of the movement’s messaging is built on a steady flow of misinformation, it’s only natural that a lot of Tea Partiers are going to have difficulty sorting out the heroes and villains. For example: When I attended a Tea Party Express rally in Nevada last month, I spoke with a man who had come “to send a message to Harry Reid.” His grievance? He blamed Reid for shortchanging a proposal for a high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to Anaheim (instead, trains will stop in Victorville, California, 100 miles from LA, which admittedly is kind of lame). The Vegas-Anaheim line would have been great for Nevadans, he explained to me. And he was probably right. But that very idea was also lampooned by Republicans at the time as a “magnetic levitation line” from “Sin City” to “Disneyland.”

Showing up at a Tea Party seemed like an odd way to express support for European-style, subsidized public transit, but that’s kind of the point: Tea Party ringleaders have helped build the movement by confusing the heck out of everyone. On a much less cynical note, I’d add that for all the uncompromising rhetoric, even Tea Partiers can respectfully agree to disagree. At the same event in Searchlight, Nevada, I was approached by a middle-aged man sporting a Tea Party t-shirt and a Dale Earnhardt mustache. After listening in on a conversation, he followed me to my next interviewees. I was expecting a confrontation, but instead he told me “Mother Jones is a good magazine; I don’t agree with everything you guys do, but it’s very fair.”

That 17% of Tea Partiers who “approve” of Obama might not agree with him, but maybe some of them really do think he’s fair. And for what it’s worth, I find that encouraging.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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