THE GOP BASE WITH A DIFFERENT NAME IS STILL THE GOP BASE…. For many pundits and political observers, the Tea Party “movement” is something new — a group of angry and disaffected voters who disapprove of both parties, rely on Fox News, and have no use for the political establishment. What the activists lack in leadership, expertise, clarity of thought, internal structure, and connections to reality they make up for in passion and blind rage towards a failed “system.” They’re political free agents, the argument goes, willing to vote for those who speak to their fears.

Perhaps now would be a good time to note the differences between Tea Partiers and right-wing Republicans — specifically, the fact that there really aren’t any differences.

New data out of Gallup suggests … nearly seven in ten tea party supporters describe themselves as “conservative Republicans.”

All told, nearly 80 percent of tea party supporters describe themselves as Republicans while 15 percent say they are Democrats and just six percent are, in their own minds, “pure independents.” […]

“Their similar ideological makeup and views suggest that the Tea Party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene,” wrote Gallup Poll director Frank Newport in a memo analyzing the results, which were culled from national surveys conducted in March, May and June. […]

The Gallup data, when combined with the Resurgent Republic findings, suggests that the constant comparisons between today’s tea party voter and the supporters of Ross Perot in the early 1990s are simply wrong.

Agreed. Tea Partiers may not have any real affinity for the Republican leadership — they’ve proven themselves willing to reject establishment-backed GOP candidates in primaries — but they’re still just Republicans, with priorities indistinguishable from the party.

E.J. Dionne noted the other day, “For some months now, I have been battling against the idea that the Tea Party movement is some brand-new thing in American politics, an independent movement akin to the rebellion led by Ross Perot in the 1990s. Tea Party people, I have been arguing, are simply right-wing Republicans organized under a new banner.”

E.J. was right. Whether others in the media will pick up on this remains to be seen, but I’m not optimistic.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.