Editor's Note: Tea Party surveys fairgoers

By Richard Wiens, The Triplicate August 22, 2011 05:16 pm

Perhaps it was the rather authentic-looking million-, billion- and zillion-dollar bills it was handing out.

The Del Norte County Tea Party managed to get 254 people to fill out opinion surveys during the county fair. And while the results are far from scientific, they do offer some insight into the current attitudes and concerns of North Coast residents.

The Tea Party, of course, generally represents the right-hand side of the political spectrum, so it’s only reasonable to expect the survey results to lean heavily conservative. Many people of other persuasions probably chose not to even stop at the Tea Party booth, even if they had been willing to take a few minutes out of their fair day to fill out a form.

Still, those who did participate seemed somewhat a cross-section of the population, said Tea Party leader Mary Wilson. They took the questions and their answers seriously, many lingering longer than expected, and she was especially pleased at the number of young people who took part.

Tallying up the responses to the most general questions doesn’t reveal any surprises. Asked if “the federal government’s massive increase in spending has helped with job growth,” 214 respondents said no, eight said yes and 26 were undecided.

Regarding “government at all levels,” 215 said it’s too big, 14 said it’s just right and 13 said it’s too small. Asked if California’s economy is improving, 207 said no, 11 said yes and 28 were uncertain.

As for the idea of tax increases to help balance the state budget, 175 said no, 39 said yes and 29 were undecided.

The responses got less predictable when the questions got a bit more personal and local. Asked about the biggest effect of increasing gas prices, 161 said they are spending less on other things, 119 said they’re driving less and four said they’d detected no effect.

“How do you feel about the School Board’s decision to place a new teen health clinic adjacent to the high school?” While 113 were “not okay” with it, 72 were “okay” and 57 were undecided.

Asked how the “reconstruction” of Crescent City Harbor is progressing, 107 said “unsure,” 91 said “poor” and 50 said “good.”

Perhaps the deepest insight into the psyche of the people resulted from an open-ended final question, “What are your biggest concerns?”  Among the responses:

• “Not being able to experience with my kids what I experienced with my parents.”

• “That my government is moving further and further away from God.”

• “The rich not paying their share of taxes.”

• “I worry for my grandkids — what will be their future?”

• “Political parties not willing to compromise.”

• “Losing freedom of religion for Christians.”

• “We need better PE in school.”

• “Freedom to choose medical care.”

• “Two adult children who can’t live on their own.”

• “My weight.”

• “The whole bunch in D.C.”

• “Time is short and hell is hot.”

• “Country going broke.”

• “That Obama will win again because we do not have a competent person running against him.”