In case you're wondering how many Americans are actually Tea Partiers, CBS and The New York Times have an answer for you: four percent of the general public.
There has been some confusing discussion of the Tea Partiers' numbers lately. A Gallup poll, released earlier this month, found that 28 percent of Americans count themselves as "supporter[s] of the Tea Party movement."
But that's not the same as actually being a Tea Partier, insofar as Tea Party activism can be defined. Signs of identity, as opposed to support, would include whether or not one has attended a Tea Party rally or meeting, participated in a conference call with a Tea Party group, or whether one subscribes to and actively reads an e-mail newsletter from a Tea Party group. Mental engagement is just as important, probably, as physically going somewhere, since not everyone has time to attend a rally in the middle of a workday, for instance, or to meet up with other activists on a weeknight.
A new poll from CBS and the Times, however, finds that 20 percent of those who support the Tea Party movement (18 percent of Americans support it, they find) say they have either given money or attended a Tea Party event, or both.
A total four percent of all respondents, accordingly, had either attended an event or given money.
That figure is based on an April 5-12 telephone survey including results from 1,580 adults nationwide and an oversampled portion of 881 self-identified Tea Party supporters (oversampled to find more info on their preferences, but scaled back down to avoid corrupting the 18-percent figure).
It's the best answer yet (to my knowledge) of how many people are actually engaged with the Tea Party movement.