The Tea Party in Local Politics

27 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014

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Date Written: 2014


Since 2009 the Tea Party has disrupted and deeply influenced American politics. The force of the movement has been felt not only in the three election cycles since then, but also in the development of public policy. One area where Tea Party influence has been said to be significant is in the area of environmental sustainability. As local governments have moved toward adopting environmental measures aimed at promoting sustainability, there have been some cases where local Tea Parties have emerged as aggressive and strident opponents of related policy changes. How widespread this behavior has been is unclear. In this paper we look broadly at the Tea Party movement across the country and systematically assess its influence in urban America. Based on evidence we’ve gathered for a number of different databases, we find that the Tea Party has not had a measurable impact on city policymaking in the area of sustainability. Moreover, we find that local Tea Party chapters generally have very limited organizational capacity to engage in advocacy. Across 50 large American cities, our findings indicate that the typical Tea Party chapter is at best a modest presence in local politics.

Suggested Citation

Berry, Jeffrey M., The Tea Party in Local Politics (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey M. Berry (Contact Author)

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

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