On days when the internet fails to provide enough feuding partners to keep me amused, I like to intercede into others peoples' feuds. Today we have E.J. Dionne vs. Jennifer Rubin. The debate centers around whether the Tea Party movement represents a minority or a majority strain of public sentiment. Dionne says minority strain. Rubin replies:
As to his insistence that the Tea Party doesn't represent the views of a majority of Americans, the evidence is overwhelming that the small government, anti-statism, anti-debt philosophy that is the heart of the Tea Party ethos has taken the country by storm. John Judis writing months before the 2010 midterm tsunami in the New Republic put it well:
"I can understand why liberals would want to dismiss the Tea Party movement as an inauthentic phenomenon; it would certainly be welcome news if it were....But the Tea Party movement is not inauthentic, and--contrary to the impression its rallies give off--it isn't a fringe faction either. It is a genuine popular movement, one that has managed to unite a number of ideological strains from U.S. history--some recent, some older. These strains can be described as many things, but they cannot be dismissed as passing phenomena. Much as liberals would like to believe otherwise, there is good reason to think the Tea Party movement could exercise considerable influence over our politics in the coming years....
There are no national membership lists, but extensive polls done by Quinnipiac, The Winston Group, and Economist/YouGov suggest that the movement commands the active allegiance of between 13 percent and 15 percent of the electorate. That is a formidable number, and, judging from other polls that ask whether someone has a "favorable" view of the Tea Parties, the movement gets a sympathetic hearing from as much as 40 percent of the electorate.... If the GOP wins back at least one house of Congress in November, the Tea Parties will be able to claim victory and demand a say in Republican congressional policies."
Let's recap this dispute. Dionne says the Tea Party is a minority sentiment. Rubin says he wrong, and fires back by quoting an article that says the Tea Party represents 13% to 15% of the public. Is she saying that 13% to 15% represents a majority?