April 22nd, 2010
06:27 PM ET
5 years ago

Counting Tea Party activists causes conflict

A new report puts the number of Tea Party activists at 67,000.
A new report puts the number of Tea Party activists at 67,000.

Washington (CNN) – A new report by a nonprofit organization estimates that there are 67,000 Tea Party activists throughout the country, which is at odds with estimates by a handful of conservatives including Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

Dante Chinni, a correspondent for Patchwork Nation, told CNN that they have determined most of the Tea Party activists reside in reliably Republican districts, rural or agricultural areas, wealthy suburbs and what they call "military bastions" located near U.S. military bases. Patchwork Nation, which was launched by the Christian Science Monitor and funded by the Knight Foundation, arrived at 67,000 by poring over publicly available information to identify people who actually registered with Tea Party organizations.

Chinni told CNN the figure does not include people who may sympathize with or support the Tea Party movement.

"Is this a complete list of everybody? No," Chinni said. "I think … there's probably maybe 10,000-to-12,000 total that we've missed."

Yet Chinni insisted that, "this is the overwhelming majority of registered Tea party members."

Patchwork Nation's Tea Party member estimate is dramatically lower than one recently offered by Steele.

In a speech to Chicago college students, Steele said Tea Party activists make up "a third or more" of the voting age population.

If Steele's estimate is true, that would mean roughly 77 million Americans support the Tea Party.

Regarding Steele's estimate, Chinni told CNN, "If he's got numbers to show that…I'd really be curious to see them."

"I don't know if they actually exist," Chinni said.

CNN contacted the RNC to inquire about what information Steele may have used for his estimate.

"The Tea Party movement grows with each passing day, as President Obama and Congressional Democrats refuse to listen to the America people," RNC Director of Media Affairs LeRoy Coleman said in a statement.

Coleman added, "We are listening, and we welcome their message: No more big government, tax and spend policies."

Mark Williams, chairman of the "Tea Party Express 3" tour, would not specifically sign on to Steele's estimate, telling CNN, "that would be huge."

He told CNN some 350,000 people have signed up for email and other internet communications from the Tea Party movement.

Updated: 7:47 p.m.


Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC • Tea Party movement
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Donnatella

    Who really cares how many of the nuts their are , we got your message loud and clear, you hate the president because he is black, you want your all white country back, you are all republicans, please stop the lying about independents, we want no part of you racists. You people will never get far because you are the minority now, get over yourselves.

    April 22, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Michael

    Here, we find out that CNN and Foxnews committment to all this TV cable time, to a movement that does not even number 100,000 people nationwide; this tells me that Foxnews and CNN is trying to make the Tea party a viable movement from the coverage and reporting about their rhetoric and meetings! Sounds like Rupert Murdock owns CNN and Foxnews! CNN is lowering its reporting standards with Erik Erickson, John King and John Roberts on their payroll!

    April 22, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. Jason

    Though I am city dwelling liberal, I am concerned about the debt that we are carrying. However, the problem I have with the Tea Party is that they were NOWHERE to be seen or heard during the duration of the Bush administration when the debt and deficit skyrocketed. Cheney himself said "deficits do not matter." Now when things are trying to be fixed, they are screaming bloody murder. Also, those who want to blame the Democratic Congress elected in 2006 should remember that any bloated budget could have been vetoed by Bush. Where was he? It all boils down to lack of credibility.

    April 22, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Let's face it, these tea partiers are the same Republicans that supported John McCain, so that's where the count problem lies and they don't want to admit it. There's nothing new in this tea party, it's just republicans.

    April 22, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. Rosy

    In 2008 the number of US citizens of voting age was 231,229,580. 67,000 is hardly a viable political movement. More noise than substance thanks to the media coverage.

    April 22, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Ryan

    Um...judging by the pictures, there's also a large percentage of teabaggers who aren't even old enough to vote. They should be angry over public education's lack of funding because these people clearly missed a few math classes.

    April 22, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. T'SAH from Virginia

    If you only have 67,000 Tea Party members – how can 250,000 show up at a rally? The last meeting in DC, they claimed, was over 25,000? Have you ever noticed that the cameras NEVER pan out to show the whole crowd? The REAL number at the last rally was about 1,500!!!

    I blame the media for trying to make the Tea Party BIGGER than what they really are!!!

    April 22, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    This Republican movement within the minority party is getting disproportionate attention from the corporate main stream media!

    Just a bunch of ignorant old white people that are too stupid to relaize that they will pay less taxes in 2009 than they did in 2008 while collecting Social Security and Medicare all along while decrying "Keep the government out of my governmental (Medicare) program".

    What dolts!!!

    April 22, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. Crazy Harry

    I'm glad to see that there are under 100,000 totally wacked out individuals the align themselves with this bunch of crazies. They all should be taken to a hospital and have their heads x-rayed to see what is really inside there.

    April 22, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. m smith

    The less nuts the better. I understand people being angry and confused. But these people are crazy and do not know what they are talking about most of the time. They believe the miss information that the palins and fox tell them

    April 22, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. hobart

    However you count them, they are a tempest in a teapot unworthy of all the media coverage they receive. It the CNN polls are to be believed, that 10% of us support them, then why don't all the other 10% groups, such as African Americans, LGBTs, or radical leftists, get equal time?

    Why do CNN's news programs allow Republicans such as Rudi Giuliani to blather knee-jerk lies and hypocrisies without calling them on them? Earth to Rudi: loans are not government takeovers. You need to stop getting your talking points from Frank Luntz, who absolutely lied when he told all of us he interviewed a million people (which is numerically impossible in the time frame he wrote his book).

    Why do Republicans think they need to lie to make what might otherwise be a good point. Could it be because they hate America?

    April 22, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    A recent Gallup Poll showed that ONLY .....28%....... of Americans approve of the Tea Party.

    CNN, considering all the hate rhetoric, why are you giving the TP so much coverage.

    There are 300 MILLION Americans, the TP is hardly a large group.

    April 22, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. John

    The Tea Party is beholden to the GOP. Over inflated because 99.9% is white. Example, if a white women is missing it on the news 24 hours a day. If a women of color is missing it's buried on the back page.

    April 22, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. D.

    The first civil right movement was made out of one person, who refused to move to the back of the bus. There is a right to protest to the liberals, the minority as well as to the conservatives, majority, whatever.
    Somehow left-wingers think they have a monopoly on protest, well this is not the case, people will protest the fundamental change of their country to the worse!

    April 22, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Tiny numbers ...

    ... to go along with the tiny thingies that spur Tea Partiers to carry guns everywhere.

    How about a comparison with the millions who belong to Organizing for America? But no, that would be verging on objective news coverage, just laying out the facts ...

    April 22, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Peter E

    There is a difference between being part of the Tea Party and people who agree with the Tea Party/or disagree with Obama on the issues. To just randomly call Tea Partier anyone who opposes Obama is dishonest. I know Steele is trying to rebrand his party as somehow popular, hence trying to convince people that somehow republicans are just like the Tea Party, but people don't have THAT short term memory about how much the republicans screwed up this country. He isn't helping his own party with this, and he is just hurting the Tea Party, as it becomes increasingly widespread that Tea Party is just a front for the GOP.

    April 22, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Yes, in a country of 300,000,000 I'm sure 67,000 (or even 350,000 if you take the higher estimate) represent the 'will of the people.'Just like republicans conceded back in the Bush days that the million strong anti-war protests around the country were also the 'will of the people'and started listening to them...

    April 22, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. haren

    That is what exactly tea party movement is, a small minority making noise and same people travelling in their RV and chartered bus attending rally every where as if they have grass root movement in whole country.

    April 22, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  19. Average Joe

    So, what's your point? Should we start counting the number of people literally protesting the War in Iraq to decide whether or not Americans are upset? Honestly, if this is what you are wasting your time on, perhaps your pay should be lowered.

    April 22, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. liz the First

    The tea party is nowhere near as expansive or influential as Faux News would have us believe. these people are a noisy crowd that's about 8 years too late with their anger. most of what they're angry about isn't even true. and the thing they are legitimately angry about, the growing deficit, is the fault of George Bush and his spendthrift congress, not Obama, who, unfortunately had to spend money cleaning up Bush's mess. the sooner these folks go away, the better off this country will be. they are totally counterproductive to getting this country back to the shape Bush found it in before he drove it into a ditch.

    April 22, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. MAD IN TEXAS

    There is a moron doing these polls. We have right now over 45 million members as of this date. So watch our number continue to grow while you send out dummies to do your polls. Come November you will see the true counts.

    April 22, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. key

    This guy is delusional

    April 22, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. Independant Thinker

    In southeast Washington the local Tea Party held it's "Anniversary Rally" just two weeks ago. The Rally covered two VERY Republican dominated counties and (by the organizers own estimate) drew just over 500 people. That comprises just 1.3% of the registered voters(Republican, Democrat and Independant) in the two counties.

    I would agree with the numbers from Patchwork Nation. While there may be more "supporters" they are not being all that active.

    Steele's comments are more wishful thinking than reality based.

    April 22, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  24. from the middle

    Why do these fringe groups get so much attention? More people go to a baseball game. AND have better manners after a couple of brews under their belts!

    April 22, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  25. mario

    i'm tired of the tea party, rnc depicting themselves as real americans(but,has never brought any solutions to the table) and so arrogantly thinking they are a majority, if we actually consider the polls, they only suggest that roughly 46-47% of the ppl were against healthcare reform, wall st reform, last time i checked 46-47% is not a majority considering that maybe 53-54% of the american ppl who are not against reform

    April 22, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
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