Our firm had an all-attorney retreat in Orlando over the weekend, and the keynote speaker was national pollster John Zogby. He had a number of important insights drawn from his current work and the trends in his book The Way We’ll Be. One point in particular which he mentioned caught my attention. According to John, there’s a misconception that the folks defining themselves as Tea Party supporters are primarily from the lower economic strata, particularly those who have lost their jobs. To the contrary, his research indicates that they tend to be upper middle class, and their anger stems more from a fear that whatever socio-economic level they have achieved may be taken from them.
Three stories in the New York Times today resonate against that background. The first is a report on the US Senate race in Pennsylvania, where Pat Toomey is perceived to have an edge over Joe Sestak primarily because he has been leveraging that fear. The second is about Tea Party candidates starting to poke at the Federal Reserve Bank. It illustrates that the anger is still in search of a target but it seems to me that the harder it is to explain something, the easier it is to assign it blame. Finally, Paul Krugman has a column today that makes the case that the two previous targets, health care reform and the stimulus, don’t deserve the anger they’ve generated because the former hasn’t really taken effect and the latter was too small to matter.