Tea Party Mobilization
40 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 15 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
Although we usually refer to the “Tea Party,” this movement is made up of hundreds of highly independent “Tea Parties.” Our paper explores the impact of this local control over the development of the advocacy that has emerged in the years since the movement began to take shape in the spring of 2009. Here we examine the localism of the Tea Party movement, looking at 1) organizational leadership and control, 2) the utilization of “outrage” language, 3) the role of the Tea Party in Republican congressional primaries, and 4) the emergence of a new path to recruitment for running for Congress. The paper is built upon two original databases. The first is a set of elite interviews conducted over the past year with the leaders of various state and local Tea Parties across the United States. The second database contains systematic examinations of every House and Senate race where an incumbent was being challenged or where there was an open seat. In many ways we find that the advocacy choices made by Tea Parties are closely linked to the autonomy of these individual organizations. The refusal of local Tea Parties to “scale up” has profound implications for the continuing development of the movement.
Keywords: Tea Party, congressional elections, social movements, interest groups
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