A new poll is out today from the Public Religion Research Institute. It covers a lot of ground, and I encourage you to go read the whole thing, but a few things popped out at me.
Mainly I was fascinated by the questions on the makeup of the Tea Party Movement, it's the first research I've seen that really delves into how the members of the movement view themselves. Letting people tell you the stories they tell about themselves to themselves is usually the best route to understanding where they're coming from.
So, first, it's an overwhelmingly Christian group. 81% identify as Christian, and nearly half (47%) say they are part of the religious right or conservative Christian movement.
Secondly, it isn't libertarian, it's much more socially conservative, with 63% saying abortion should be illegal and only 18% in favor of gay marriage.
Third, it is fundamentally a Republican movement. 76 percent identify or lean towards the Republican party.
And last, not terribly surprisingly, the media has blown their numbers out of proportion, only 11 percent of the population identifies with the Tea Party movement. A vocal 11 percent without a question. But only half the number of those who call themselves Conservative Christian, 22%.
I know that these kinds of polls garner a lot of controversy, and I'll let people far more expert than I dissect the methodology, but it looks fairly solid to me. They detail it on page 25 of the full report.
NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty had a piece on the Tea Party and religion last week that's also worth a look.