Tea Parties: Volume Versus Principles - Texas Scorecard

An interesting story line some have tried to create in Texas’ gubernatorial race has been that Debra Medina is the “tea party” candidate, while Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Hutchison are not, or worse. Certainly many have wanted that line to be true, and shouted it loudly. Who gets to claim the banner of “tea party” candidate clearly must not rest with those who shout it the loudest.

Volume is what we too often respond to in politics: who shouts the loudest. The old saying about the squeaky wheel is how, too often, we judge political activity, and predict success.

The desire to grab labels, however, does not necessarily translate into support from the electorate.

In the recent Texas Credit Union League poll, Perry far outperforms Medina in support from people who identify themselves as agreeing with the tea party movement’s principles. And it isn’t close. Perry has 51 percent support of the people who say a candidate who identifies with “tea party” values is a positive thing they will consider. Interestingly, Medina barely out polls Hutchison among tea-party-goers, at 24 to 21. (Download the PDF cross-tabs.)

The support for incumbent politicians in many races seems to show that the “tea party” is not anti-incumbent, but a reflection of a belief in core values. Perry has a very strong fiscal record, and the state’s electorate seems to recognize that. Likewise, it must not be forgotten that Scott Brown was a Massachusetts state senator with a clear record, good with bad, when he received the support of “tea party” voters.

Mrs. Medina did not help her candidacy with comments on the Glenn Beck program today. Rather than the planned appearance putting her over the top – or, at least, into a run-off — as supporters hoped, the wheels fell off with the first question and the interview ended. Beck asked her about allegations she is close to the “9/11 truthers” movement – people who believe President Bush and shadowy figures in the US government planned and carried out the infamous attack, that bombs were pre-set in the building, etc. Medina hemmed, hawed, said it was a federal issue, said she didn’t want to engage in “thought police” activities among her closest staff and advisors. It was the worst of non-answers.

If current poll numbers reflect that the electorate is driven by principles not by anti-incumbency fever, as we suspect, the fact that she wouldn’t (or couldn’t) disassociate herself clearly and articulately from what is clearly a fringe position will drive her support down, not up.

But we shall see.

We are adamant supporters of the “tea party” spirit, and business as usual in Austin or Washington is a non-starter. I suspect most Texans are like us, and want the quickest movement to transparency, accountability, and fiscal stewardship.

We expect as fellow activists, inspired by the tea party movement, we shall see voters move in a way that allows sound principles to take root and be implemented, with the state of our state vastly improved.

In doing so, the tea party activists will make a story for the ages.

We have all been energized by the fringe Leftist policies being advanced in the Federal government, and see our country at risk. The answer is not fringe for fringe, but a movement to the core principals our country was founded on. And those core principles are more than a label.