Does the Tea Party Still Matter?: Tea Party Influence in the 2012 Elections
41 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
Using both the 2012 American National Election Study and the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we investigate how attitudes toward the Tea Party shaped voting behavior in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. We find that, compared to other Republicans (let alone independents and Democrats), Tea Party Republicans are notably more conservative across a broad range of issues, more hostile to Obama, more politically active, and more loyal to the Republican party and its candidates. Although Tea Partiers and religious conservatives overlap, they are distinguishable factions within the Republican Party. Attitudes toward the Tea Party are shaped by positions on social as well as economic issues, but most powerfully by views of Obama. Although views of the Tea Party are thus highly correlated with a variety of other influential political attitudes and beliefs, they still had a substantial and significant independent effect on voting behavior at all levels in 2012. We conclude with thoughts on the Tea Party Republicans’ contribution to polarized national politics and on the movement’s prospects beyond 2016, when Obama is no longer around to energize it.
Keywords: U.S. Elections, Obama, Tea Party,
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