Statistics are powerful but sometimes we don't do the math. What we can also glean from the above is that 60 percent of the Tea Party are under age 55; 21 percent are people of color, and 39 percent are women.
Some earlier stats collected by a University of Toronto professor (reported with caution, though, since samples were small) reveal that "there's a relationship between the amount of education one has and the strength of their religious beliefs. Getting an education tends to drive you away from the most fundamentalist religions. That's probably why there's a smaller percentage of college educated fundamentalists (27%) compared to moderates (39%) and liberals (51%)."
Then there are fundamentalists who earned bachelor degrees from "Bible colleges," which are more likely to teach creationism than are mainstream schools and universities.
According to the Bloomberg poll, again, more than 44 percent of the Tea Party are "born-agains" or other categories of fundamentalist Christian.
CNN, Bloomberg, the University of Toronto professor? Two out of three, at least, are mainstream sources. I don't know enough about statistics to modernize these stats on the basis of mathematical probabilities, nor was I able to access more up-to-date figures.
There are many more conclusions possible from the above figures. I choose to draw the conclusion I wanted to draw: that a substantial percentage, maybe as high as 50 percent of Tea Party members, are not as steeped in the Enlightenment culture that is still the theoretical basis of our democracy as are others of us, classified by the University of Toronto professor as moderates or liberals.
Add the above considerations to all of the election corruption that interfered with an accurate vote count in 2010 (the most corrupt election in U.S. history up until then) and acquire at least an idea why the Tea Party gained so many seats in Congress and are running the show even though a million more votes were gleaned by non-Tea Party candidates who somehow were not seated in offices they would have won had it not been for redistricting that clumps inner-city minorities into fewer and fewer electoral units, paving the road for more GOP victories, and the beat goes on, with the Electoral College another target.
The ruling "winner take all" will acquire a new denotation. The GOP will take all through ingenuity. Whither the informed public? Many minds will indeed be filled with misinformation.
Whither higher-level thinking? Get this: McDonald's or Exeter/Harvard, no oxymoron in this topsy-turvy, progressively (not in the political sense) less rational twenty-first century.
Prove me wrong. I will be vastly relieved.
After all, according to today's New York Times "Opinionator," Conservatives believe that the cause of the "skills-based gap" is " educational failure." Liberals agree. The gap "offers an opportunity to criticize our government-run system of public education and especially . . . [you don't want to read the rest]."
These same conservatives also support withdrawing federal funding from sources of higher education that persist in raising tuition.
Remember, the New York Times is studying conservatives without mentioning fundamentalists or Tea Party people at all. The conservatives include George F. Will and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who might think twice when reading that "[s]ince 1979 the income gap between people with college or graduate degrees and people whose education ended in high school has grown."
So there seems to be some hope, though the rest of the Times blog advocates the revival of unions as a fundamental step toward righting (in the nonpolitical sense) the economy, with which these same conservatives would likely take issue.
But conservatives are coming out against "educational failure." Is it too late? According to a 2010 Gallup poll, " Conservative Republicans outnumber moderate/liberal Republicans in the general population by about a 2-to-1 margin; among Tea Party supporters, the ratio is well more than 3 to 1." The "Opinionator" seems to define Conservative as moderate/liberal or at least moderate. But who knows? The definition should have been clearer.
Nonetheless, as I've written before, my faith in the post-boomer generations persists. They must channel all of their brilliance and creativity away from Wall Street to the sciences. Because science holds answers that will save the world--the environment, that is.
I conclude with a one-word question: "How?"