During today's rowing session part of my audio time shifting was an excellent Christopher Lydon conversion with Vanessa Williamson on Radio Open Source. Vanessa is a grad student at Harvard who spent two years interviewing tea party members... some really excellent insight.
My own notion is fairly similar - this is a generational reaction of older white and socially conservative people to change - the same change that the much younger occupy folks were reacting to and perhaps the beginning of a major generational break in the US.
Vanessa's book is probably worth reading.
audio of the interview is here (39 minute mp3)