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Dissecting the Tea Party

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Two different polls out today have fresh insights on the Tea Party movement. One is an "exit poll" sponsored by Politico, the other is the Pew poll.

Politico hired exit pollster Edison Research to get a better view of those who attend Tea Party rallies. They found a Sarah Palin wing and a Ron Paul wing.

From the Washington, DC, tax day rally, it found: "Tea party activists are divided roughly into two camps, according to a new POLITICO/TargetPoint poll: one that's libertarian-minded and largely indifferent to hot-button values issues and another that's culturally conservative and equally concerned about social and fiscal issues."

One unifying issue, however, is their disdain for President Obama. "The attendees were largely hostile to President Barack Obama and the national Democratic Party -- three-quarters believe the president 'is pursuing a socialist agenda.'"

And: "In general, those who turned out for the April 15 event tended to be less culturally conservative than national Republicans. Asked to rate their level of anger about 22 issues on a scale of one (not angry at all) to five (extremely angry), the issue that drew the most anger: the growing national debt. The least: courts granting same-sex couples the right to marry. Twenty-four percent said they're 'not at all' upset about gay marriage."

They are overwhelmingly Republicans or disaffected Republicans: "For all their differences, these activists share much. They've traditionally supported Republicans: 70 percent backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008; just 12 percent voted for Obama." It should be no suprise then that "11 percent said they'd consider voting for Obama in 2012."

Pew shows the majority of people -- 61% -- either had no opinion on the Tea Party movement or had not heard of it. A quarter surveyed -- 24% -- said they agree with it, and just 14% said they don't.

Those that agree are generally older, white, college educated, higher income, married, and Republican. The largest bloc of those who agree are 65 and older (33%), followed by 50-64 (32%), then 30-49 (23%) and drops off among those 18-29 (9%). By race, whites agree the most (28%) as compared to Hispanics (17%) and blacks (7%). By education, 30% of college grads agree; 26% with some college do; and 20% have a high school education or less. By income, 35% of those making $75,000 a year or more agree; 23% of those making $30,000 to $74,999 do; and just 14% of those making less than $30,000 do.

By party identification, 45% of Republicans agrees (vs. just 4% who don't), 26% of independents (vs. 14% who don't), and 6% of Democrats (vs. 24% who don't). And they're even more Republican when leaners are pushed.

Of those who lean Republican, 53% agree and just 12% of independents and 7% of Democrats do.

In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from last month, 29% had a positive view of the Tea Party movement vs. 28% who had a negative one.