Tea Party Mobilization

40 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 15 Aug 2012

Jeffrey M. Berry

Tufts University

Sarah Sobieraj

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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

Suggested Citation

Berry, Jeffrey M. and Sobieraj, Sarah, Tea Party Mobilization (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108161

Jeffrey M. Berry (Contact Author)

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Sarah Sobieraj

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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