Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Tea Party... A New Party? Or a Subset of the Republican Party?

The Tea Party movement has been catching our attention for some time now. We know that the Tea Party is creating political shifts. But are the shifts great enough to create a realignment or are they simply strong enough to readjust the focus of the Republican party?

It has been hard to tell because untill now, we haven’t been able to decipher a Tea Partier's party alignment when given the three traditional options Democrat, Republican and Independent. If they still identify as Republicans then maybe they are reshaping the Republican Party agenda. But if they are stepping out as Independents then maybe they are truly creating their own party. In this month’s national poll we gathered some of that data.

When asked “Do you identify as a member of the Tea Party?,” 25% of Americans said yes. However, when the Tea Party was added to our traditional party demographic question; “If you are a Democratic press 1, Republican press 2, Tea Partier press 3….” only 10% of Americans said they were part of the Tea Party. This suggests that a majority of those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party don't consider the Tea Party a independent political party.

Furthermore out of the 25% of Americans who identify as members of the Tea Party 62% also identify as Republicans, 25% as Independents and 12% as Democrats. Almost 47% of Republicans identity as members of the Tea Party. The Tea Party is attracting a large portion of the Republican Party, sugguesting that currently is it just a movement within the Republican Party.

Its ability to attract such a large number of Independents could be helpful for the Republican Party come election time, but it doesn’t seem likely that many Tea Partiers are leaving the Republican Party just yet.

Its large following could be rooted more in anger towards the government than actual party alignment. The Tea Party’s ability to withstand two Presidential elections will be the true test of its longevity. Is the party just mad at the current administration and Democratic Congress or do they have a charge? Withstanding Presidential elections forces parties to define themselves and their mission, not based on another candidate or party but on their own ideology and determined direction.

The other factor involved in a realignment is those Republicans who are opposed to the Tea Party movement and ideologies, those who might leave the party if the Tea Partiers were to reshape the Republican agenda. Are there enough to create a new party? Do they feel marginalized enough to leave or empowered enough to maintain a party if the Tea Partiers were to leave? We really have no data on that now. We can tell that 53% of Republicans don’t identify as Tea Partiers but we can’t differentiate between those who are apathetic and those who oppose the subset.


Anonymous said...

If Republicans are smart, they'll run from the extremist tea party.

NRH said...

Republicans wouldn't be Republicans if they were smart. Republicans hate smart. Their main line of attack on Kerry and Gore was that they were too intellectual. They haven't 'refutiated' Sarah Palin, and she's an even bigger blithering idiot than W was! They want reassuring beliefs they can declare and be done with, not inconvenient facts and analyses that don't always fit into preconceived agendas.

Michael Dohrn said...

I think that in general, Republicans have a handle on the concept that dumb people follow better and more intuitively than intelligent people do, and this is a major source of their party cohesion.

The Tea Party has been co-opted by prominent Republicans, and the GOP will likely do their best to commit them into the fold while changing as little of their policy as possible. They have themselves said that the Republican party needs new ideas as they claim to have brought in the 80s.

Elena, the way you're reporting the data is a little confusing - is the actual question/answer percentage data available anywhere? Sorry if this seems ignorant; I only follow you guys via RSS.

Christian Liberty said...

You still don't get it.

We are in a government BUBBLE every bit as real and severe as the housing bubble. The level of government spending and federal taxation MUST decline out of economic necessity.

It will be IMPOSSIBLE to sustain the welfare state and impossible to sustain the Democrat coalition.

The majority of voters (and investors and business owners) will insist that government spending is lower and taxation is lowered. Americans have NEVER tolerated federal taxation as high as Obama would allow in 2011. TAX CUTS have ALWAYS come from tax levels as high as we'll see next year.

Candidates who advocate TAX CUTS and lower government spending will be victorious. Voters will increasingly demand tax cuts and lower government spending. Whether they formally join the tea party or not, the MAINSTREAM of America will be signing in tune with the Tea Party.

If Democrats had any intelligence, they would be aligning themselves with the Tea Party as well.

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