The President, the Tea Party, and Voting Behavior in 2010: Insights from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study
34 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 9, 2011
Using the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, which provides both a very large national sample of voters and a rich array of questions regarding political attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs, I investigate the Tea Party movement’s role in the Republican midterm victory. I find that attitudes toward the Tea Party identify a particular subset of the electorate – essentially, the far right of the Republican coalition – that contributed disproportionately to nationalizing the election and swinging it to the Republicans. The movement energized people who opposed Barack Obama from the start and who subsequently developed intensely negative opinions of him and his agenda that were extended to his Democratic allies in Congress. Tea Party sympathies helped to mobilize an electorate that was older, whiter, more Republican and more conservative than the one that had given the Democrats control of the government two years earlier. The movement also set the tone for the Republican congressional parties for the 112th Congress. The election’s consequences shed some ironic light on the idea that midterm electorates engage in rational balancing to achieve more moderate national policies.
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