Gallup's new survey of the Tea Party movement is instructive for what it didn't find: the movement does not encompass Democrats, including independent-leaning Democrats, or more than half of true Independents. In other words, the 28% or so of adults who say they're Tea Partiers are very much likely to vote Republican when the chips are down.
Pay attention to terminology: it's true that just half of those Tea Partiers surveyed called themselves Republicans. Yes, the lion's share of the other half say they're independent. But they're not: they're Republican-oriented conservative voters who are dismayed by the direction of the GOP and who don't want to identify with the party's brand. That's not surprising, given how tarnished that brand is. Only 8% identify as Democratic; 7% identify as liberal; 70% percent identify as conservative; two-thirds are pro-life; nearly 90% were opposed to the health care bill.
Next time, I'd love for Gallup, or any other pollster, really, to ask self-identified Tea Partiers for their vote histories, for their views
on immigration and race, for their views on questions about Obama
attributes (is he a socialist?), for their specific views on policy
matters (do they support a "fair tax?").