Starting with three national polls by the Winston Group (yes, Republican leaning, but no worries, this is followed up by other organizations), four in ten members are either Independents or Democrats.
Gallup actually breaks supporters down into separate demographics, their findings are even more surprising, with 51 percent of Tea Party supporters being Independent or Democrats and only 49 percent being Republicans.
In several other respects, however -- their age, educational background, employment status, and race -- Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large.
Rasmussen finds that 48 percent, the plurality, of voters feel their views are more aligned with the Tea Party member's view than with Obama's views.
Not surprisingly, Republicans overwhelmingly feel closer to the Tea Party and most Democrats say that their views are more like Obama’s. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 50% say they’re closer to the Tea Party while 38% side with the President.
The Democratic narrative concerning the Tea Party members and the movement itself is going to have to change because despite words to the contrary, every time a Democratic politicians suggests that Tea Party members are racists, Nazi gun nuts or that all they are missing are "robes and hoods", or when Barack Obama himself tries to dismiss Tea Party members as a "core group" of birthers, they are alienating a very large part of their voter base.
Juan Williams previously explained why trying to cast Tea Party members and supporters as kooks and racists are "self-destructing" for Democrats.
But Democrats cannot win elections without capturing the votes of independent-minded swing voters. And that is where writing off the tea party as a bunch of racist kooks becomes self-destructive. The tea party outrage over health-care reform, deficit spending and entitlements run amok is no fringe concern. And it is insulting to all voters to suggest that criticism of President Obama, even by people who want to throw him out of office, is motivated by racism.
That is a point Democratic leaders seem to be either ignoring or forgetting.
The majority of hard core liberals will always vote for a Democrat and the majority of hard core conservatives will vote for the Republican candidate in elections, but Independents, not affiliated with either party, those are the people that either party need in order to win elections.
Reminder from above polls:
Gallup- 43 percent of Tea Party supporters are Independent
Rasmussen- 50 percent of voters more aligned with the views of Tea Party than with Obama.
Winston- Tea Party composition "28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic"
That is a lot of people to alienate during an election year.