Results from a new Dakota Poll of registered South Dakota voters who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters, reveals a group that is heavily Republican, but far more pragmatic and less anti-government or anti-tax than recent mainstream media portrayals have indicated.
By an overwhelming majority of 73%, poll respondents favored “imposing an extra one cent sales tax during the tourist season” as a means of balancing the state budget. Only 17% favored “cutting state aid to public schools and nursing homes.” On a similar question, respondents were asked if they favored or opposed an income tax increase of 5% “for everyone whose income is over a million dollars a year.” By a split of 56% to 39%, respondents favored the increase for millionaires.
Between February 1-3, The Dakota Poll surveyed 400 registered voters in South Dakota who identified themselves as Tea Party supporters. Despite national headlines suggesting that Tea Party supporters favor heavy cuts in federal spending to reduce the deficit and balance the federal budget, South Dakota Tea Partiers show a clear hesitancy when it comes to cutting any federal programs which might effect their own lives.
As a group, Tea Party supporters tend to be older males, and supporters are clustered disproportionately West River. 43% of South Dakota Tea Party supporters are on Social Security.
–83% said they would prefer to “leave alone” or “increase” Social Security.
–78% opposed cuts to Medicare prescription drug coverage, and 79% opposed cuts in Medicare coverage for physicians and hospitals.
–61% would support leaving federal food program funding alone or increasing it.
57% of South Dakota Tea Party supporters have a family connection to the military. 11% of Tea Party families have a family member dependent on the Veterans Administration.
–96% would support “leaving alone” or “increasing” funding for veterans benefits.
–79% oppose cuts to military spending. 71% would oppose closing Ellsworth Air Force Base, even if a bipartisan base-closing commission made the recommendation.
The single area of federal policy where Tea Party supporters show a willingness to reduce spending is FARM POLICY. 48% say they would support eliminating or reducing “federal farm payments…” and 47% say they would support eliminating or reducing subsidies for ethanol.
On a series of social and cultural questions, Tea Party supporters show distinct conservative values:
–64% believe that “illegal aliens are taking jobs away from South Dakotans.
–57% believe that Congress should investigate President Obama’s citizenship.
–63% believe that “The 2nd Amendment gives private groups the right to form militias to hold government accountable.
–48% believe “the earth is 6,000 years old as calculated by Biblical scholars.”
55% of Tea Party supporters attend church at least once a week. But on a cluster of questions regarding the relationship between religion and government, respondents showed an overwhelming interest in keeping the two separate. 87% agreed with the statement “Government should stay completely away from anything that favors one religion over another.” And 70% opposed the statement “Candidates for public office should be required by law to declare their religious preference so voters can make an informed choice.”
By a margin of 65% to 25%, Tea Party supporters disagreed with the statement “The Constitution gives corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections.”