Wednesday, June 9, 2010

St. Louis Tea Party Leaders Admit Movement is Losing Steam: Will Media Notice?

I've been reporting for months now that the local St. Louis Tea Party movement has been rapidly losing support. I mean, what better evidence do you need than the fact that this tiny blog was able to raise more money from more supporters for a good cause in two weeks than the tea party was able to raise in their three month campaign against Proposition A? Yet the local media (with my usual caveats) is apparently too incapable of providing analysis of this local social movement or even of considering both sides of the discussion to recognize that the tea party rallies have shrunk to 1/5 of their previous size. So it's not surprising at all to me that the local TV stations and Post-Dispatch, which should be reporting this information, were scooped by the tea party themselves.

Both Bill Hennessy and Dana Loesch have written recent pieces acknowledging that the tea party movement is losing momentum (though of course offering their own spin). They accept the results of a recent poll that show that half of the population now has an unfavorable opinion of tea parties, compared to only 36 % that has a favorable opinion. As Dave Weigal points out, one of the main drivers of this drop in popularity is the complete collapse of support amoung young people:
The leading edge of that has been a collapse in support from 18-29-year-olds. In March, they had a positive, 43-38 view of the tea parties. They've swung hard to a negative view, 27-60.
Hmmm, aren't those the folks that faux-hipster Loesch is supposed to be drawing in? Anyway, the data clearly shows that people are not impressed with the tea party's extremist rhetoric and obnoxious antics, as much as our media would like to believe otherwise. The local tea party has been propped up almost exclusively by their media connections: exactly the kind of back-room good old boys network privileges that they claim to oppose.

Now that the tea party has admitted that they're losing popularity, will the local media acknowledge that fact? I'm not holding my breath. First of all, they like the "conservative revolution" narrative way too much. They'll be flogging that plot line waaay after the rest of the world is completely bored by it. But even if they did report on the tea party movement's loss of momentum, history suggests that they'll be most likely to mindlessly follow the tea party spin on the numbers. Their stories probably won't even bring up the possibility that people are losing interest in the tea party because their rhetoric is off-putting: instead it will be some story about how conservatives are "shifting tactics," or "they always knew that tea party movement would be temporary," or "it doesn't matter what people call themselves because the real movement is still strong." In most stories, the local media goes out of their way to get both sides of an issue, but when reporting on the tea party they have been almost universally content to simply pass on the tea party spin on itself unfiltered and unchallenged by anyone else's opinion.

I'm glad to see that the tea party movement is losing momentum so badly that even they acknowledge it. However, there's been enough horrible news going around that the November elections are still going to be extremely tough for Democrats. These are crucial elections too, as the people in control of the state governments will be in charge of redistricting, and we all remember from last time that Republicans have no qualms about using the most shameless redistricting tactics to try to entrench their power. Progressives need to be prepared to fight hard for the 2010 elections, or we might be in trouble for a long time.


  1. Is being a "faux hipster" any better or worse than being a genuine hipster, whatever that means? Would her political message have more weight if she was more emo?

  2. Hah! Good questions. I should have said "faux punk," which is definitely worse than being genuinely punk. Hipster is used in a number of ways, some positive and some negative.

  3. The TPers are losing support because Ms. Loesch is just a rude brat who needs to grow up and Mr. Kennedy is just one sheet away from full membership in the KKK. The perceived angst of middle and upper middle class white folks isn't a movement, except when the use Ex Lax!

  4. Thanks Tim. By the way, I'm a longtime fan of your comments at the Post-Dispatch!

  5. The Gulf oil crisis is showing many people how the Tea Party is hypocritical. Example: Michelle Bachmann rants about making government smaller in front of 70K to 2 million TP'ers, depending on who you believe. Then, BOOM, BP screws up the Gulf. Now, Bachmann wonders why the hell Obama isn't using "executive authority to commandeer boats" to "deal with the oil plumes". Marco Rubio is on the same page with Bachmann and there are many others. Hannity, Rushbo, Jindal and even part-time governor Palin is weighing in on this issue. Of course Palin claims that off-shore drilling is "safe and environmentally friendly".

    Hypocrites, each and every one of them. Is it any wonder their influence is fading? And it's fading during a mid-term election period when historically the ruling party loses seats.

  6. One wonders what "train" Ms. Loesch will jump on when the Tea Party flounders. She certainly won't give up the media attention she so blatantly shows no shame in perverting and exploiting for her own promotion. She is far too enamored with herself. As someone else once commented (and I paraphrase)...."anyone who takes that many contrived photos of herself can't be taken seriously".

  7. Oh, anon, she's already looking to 2012!