This post was originally published by Campus Progress.
This isn’t the first time she’s protested the way Tea Partiers treat young people. In a February appearance on The View, she called out former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) for making racist comments about immigrants and about Obama.
“I think it’s why young people are turned off by this movement. And I’m sorry [but] revolutions start with young people. Not with 65-year-old people talking about literacy tests and people who can’t say the word ‘vote’ in English," McCain said on the show. "It’s ridiculous….This rhetoric will continue to turn off young voters and anybody that says different is smoking something. Period."
But were young people ever turned on by the Tea Party to begin with? The Tea Party might be challenging the political establishment, but they’re not doing it with the interests of the majority of young people at heart. An Economist/YouGov poll released in September showed youth voters are least likely voter group to identify with the Tea party [PDF]. Twenty-seven percent of people age 18-29 strongly oppose the Tea Party, while 16.5 percent strongly support it.
A more comprehensive report on the Millennial generation prepared by the Pew Research Center earlier this year [PDF] showed that they “remain significantly more liberal than members of older generations” and feel more positive about the idea of government intervention in general.
Young people did once play a role in the creation of the Tea Party—a student-run organization of Ron Paul supporters called Young Americans for Liberty organized one of the first “tea parties” in January of 2009, before the movement really kicked off in the months following.
But today, the movement is largely a “white, middle-class, mostly over the age of 50 movement,” according to Will Bunch, author of The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.
In an interview with RH Reality Check, he said that in the course of interviewing Tea Partiers for his book, he learned that people who identify with the movement are driven by a lot of anxiety, primarily of two kinds—economic and cultural.