April 11, 2010

A PRIMAL SCREAM MAY BE THERAPEUTIC, BUT IT'S NOT EXACTLY PERSUASIVE:

A census sign that the Tea Party is less than it seems (Dana Milbank, April 11, 2010, Washington Post)

There's evidence that this Tea Party rebellion is a bust.

That's how it looks based on a Washington Post analysis of census data. I asked The Post's database guru, Dan Keating, to break down the census response rates so far this year and to determine whether Republican counties were lagging in their census returns.

He found that, as of Thursday, counties that went for John McCain in 2008 were returning census forms at a slightly higher rate than counties that went for Barack Obama: 62.4 percent to 62.0 percent. Heavily Republican counties were responding at a higher rate than heavily Democratic counties (61.0 to 58.0 percent), and moderately Republican counties were complying a bit more than moderately Democratic counties (64.7 percent to 64.4 percent).

The proportions are roughly the same as they were in the 2000 census; if anything, Republican response rates are better than last time. The Post analysis isn't the last word -- there's plenty of counting to go, and other cultural and socioeconomic factors are at play -- but there's no sign of a mass conservative boycott.

There are other indications, too, that the conservative Tea Party movement is louder than it is big. Remember the Tea Party rally on the Capitol grounds the day of the House health-care vote? There was a pro-immigration rally on the Mall that day that attracted far more people. But the Tea Party got much greater attention, in part because Republican lawmakers joined the protest from the House balcony. In addition, most Tea Party-backed candidates have had little electoral success. As the Wall Street Journal reported, 18 Republican House members faced primary challenges last month in Texas, but all incumbents won easily.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2010 8:21 AM
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