On Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press announced that anger at the government had dropped significantly since the fall. Along with a sharp drop in national agreement with the tea party movement (a stat contradicted by other polls), I took this as a very bad sign for tea partiers. So much of their movement has seemed to revolve around being "fed up" with the government, for various reasons.
I asked Mark Meckler, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots (the nation's largest tea party membership group, estimating itself at over 10 million strong), what he made of the attitude change reported by Pew, and what it means for the movement. He e-mailed this response:
I don't think "anger" has ever been the driving factor of the movement. A passion for the idea of America, the idea of "liberty" is what drives people in this movement. We are adding chapters at a blistering pace, every individual chapter I know is growing, and the excitement is not decreasing at all. Every single day I get emails from new people who've never been involved, asking how they can form a chapter or get involved in an existing one. We just had our first American Policy Summit in Phoenix, and had over 2,300 attend in person and another 3,000 online. The excitement was incredible, and the thirst for serious policy knowledge was truly inspiring.
I don't know anything about the Pew survey...I only know that people are more engaged than ever. With the knowledge, expertise and confidence gained in 2009-2010, the 2012 elections will be a far more powerful tsunami driven by the movement than anything we saw in 2010.
Last weekend, Tea Party Patriots held its three-day American Policy Summit in Phoenix, drawing potential 2012 White House candidates Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain as speakers.