Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-x2fkq Total loading time: 0.418 Render date: 2022-12-02T09:39:17.400Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2011

Vanessa Williamson
Affiliation:
Harvard University. E-mail: vwilliam@fas.harvard.edu
Theda Skocpol
Affiliation:
Harvard University. E-mail: skocpol@fas.harvard.edu
John Coggin
Affiliation:
Harvard Divinity School. E-mail: jcoggin@hds.harvard.edu

Abstract

In the aftermath of a potentially demoralizing 2008 electoral defeat, when the Republican Party seemed widely discredited, the emergence of the Tea Party provided conservative activists with a new identity funded by Republican business elites and reinforced by a network of conservative media sources. Untethered from recent GOP baggage and policy specifics, the Tea Party energized disgruntled white middle-class conservatives and garnered widespread attention, despite stagnant or declining favorability ratings among the general public. As participant observation and interviews with Massachusetts activists reveal, Tea Partiers are not monolithically hostile toward government; they distinguish between programs perceived as going to hard-working contributors to US society like themselves and “handouts” perceived as going to unworthy or freeloading people. During 2010, Tea Party activism reshaped many GOP primaries and enhanced voter turnout, but achieved a mixed record in the November general election. Activism may well continue to influence dynamics in Congress and GOP presidential primaries. Even if the Tea Party eventually subsides, it has undercut Obama's presidency, revitalized conservatism, and pulled the national Republican Party toward the far right.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Alesina, Alberto, Glaeser, Edward, and Sacerdote, Bruce. 2001. “Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2001(2): 187254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Armey, Dick. 2010. “Opposing View on Retirement Income: Let's Upend Social Security.” USA Today, August 10.Google Scholar
Balz, Dan, and Cohen, Jon. 2007. “Poll Finds Americans Pessimistic, Want Change: War, Economy, Politics, Sour Views of Nation's Direction.” Washington Post, November 4.Google Scholar
Barr, Allen, and Allen, Mike. 2009. “SteeleTtrap? GOP Fears Grow.” Politico, March 4.Google Scholar
Barry, John. 2010. “Survey Finds Tea Party Supporters Are Mostly Perot-style Libertarians (and Often Mad at Republicans).” St. Petersburg Times, April 4.Google Scholar
Berkowitz, Peter. 2010. “Why Liberals Don't Get the Tea Party Movement.” Wall Street Journal, Saturday-Sunday, October 16–17, 2010, A17.Google Scholar
Blumenthal, Mark. 2010. “Re: Tea Party Polling.” Pollster, February 17.Google Scholar
Brader, Ted, Valentino, Nicholas A., and Suhay, Elizabeth. 2008. “What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Group Cues, and Immigration Threat.” American Journal of Political Science 52(4): 959–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brant-Zawadzki, Alex, and Teo, Dawn. 2009. “Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement: Sam Adams Alliance.” Huffington Post, December 11. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-brantzawadzki/anatomy-of-the-tea-party_b_380662.html.Google Scholar
Burke, Sheila. 2010. “Tenn. Businessman Sues Tea Party Nation Leader.” Associated Press, March 31.Google Scholar
CBS News/New York Times. 2010. Polling the Tea Party. Survey Report. April 14. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/14/us/politics/20100414-tea-party-poll-graphic.html.Google Scholar
Department of Homeland Security. Office of Immigration Statistics, Policy Directorate. 2010. Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2009, January.Google Scholar
Devos, Thierry, and Banaji, Mahzarin R.. 2005. “American = White?Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88(3): 447–66.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dickenson, Tim. 2009. “The Lie Machine: The Plot to Kill Health Care Reform.” Rolling Stone, October 1.Google Scholar
Dreier, Peter, and Martin, Christopher R.. 2010. “How ACORN Was Framed: Political Controversy and Media Agenda Setting.” Perspectives on Politics 8(3): 761–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Federal Election Commission. 2010. Campaign Finance Reports and Data [dataset]. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/disclosure_data_search.shtml.Google Scholar
Federico, Christopher M. 2004. “When Do Welfare Attitudes Become Racialized? The Paradoxical Effects of Education.” American Journal of Political Science 48(2): 374–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Federico, Christopher M. 2006. “Race, Education, and Individualism Revisited.” The Journal of Politics 68(03): 600–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gardner, Amy. 2010. “Gauging the Scope of the Tea Party Movement in America.” Washington Post, October 24.Google Scholar
Gerstein, Josh. 2009. “Gibbs Rebukes CNBC's Santelli.” Politico, February 20.Google Scholar
Gilens, Martin. 1999. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Glenn, Brian J., and Teles, Steven M., eds. 2009. Conservatism and American Political Development. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Granovetter, Mark. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78(6): 1360–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Granovetter, Mark. 1983. “The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited.” Sociological Theory 1: 201–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greenberg, Stanley B., Carville, James, Gerstein, Jim, Craighill, Peyton M., and Monninger, Kate. 2010. Special Report on the Tea Party Movement. Democracy Corps. July 19, 2010. http://www.democracycorps.com/strategy/2010/07/special-report-on-the-tea-party-movement/.Google Scholar
Hacker, Jacob S., and Pierson, Paul. 2007. “Tax Politics and the Struggle over Activist Government.” In The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservativism, ed. Pierson, Paul and Skocpol, Theda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Hadaway, C. Kirk, Marler, Penny Long, Chaves, Mark. 1993. “What the Polls Don't Show: A Closer Look at U.S. Church Attendance.” American Sociological Review 58(6): 741–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hennessy, Kathleen. 2010. “‘Tea Party’ Candidate Faces Civil Rights Controversy.” Los Angeles Times, May 21.Google Scholar
Hochschild, Jennifer L. 1981. What's Fair: American Beliefs about Distributive Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Hofstadter, Richard. 1964. “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Harper's, November.Google Scholar
Holbrook, Allyson L., and Krosnick, Jon A.. 2010. “Social Desirability Bias in Voter Turnout Reports.” Public Opinion Quarterly 74(1): 3767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Houston Tea Party Society. 2010. “Who Is Mark Williams?” Blog post distancing local tea party activists from Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express. July 19, 2010. http://houstontps.org/?p=1355.Google Scholar
Jacobs, Lawrence R., and Skocpol, Theda. 2010. Health Care Reform and American Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, and Cappella, Joseph N.. 2008. Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Jones, Jeffrey M. 2009. “In First 100 Days, Obama Seen as Making a Bipartisan Effort.” Gallup, April 24.Google Scholar
Keith, Bruce E., Magleby, David B., Nelson, Candice J., Orr, Elizabeth, Westlye, Mark C., and Wolfinger, Raymond E.. 1992. The Myth of the Independent Voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Kinder, D. R, and Sanders, L. M. 1996. Divided by Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Lee, Woojin, and Roemer, John E.. 2006. “Racism and Redistribution in the United States: A Solution to the Problem of American Exceptionalism.” Journal of Public Economics 90(6-7): 1027–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lepore, Jill. 2010. The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Luttmer, Erzo F. P. 2001. “Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution.” Journal of Political Economy 109(3): 500–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malcolm, Andrew. 2010. “Myth-busting Polls: Tea Party Members Are Average Americans, 41 percent are Democrats, Independents.” Los Angeles Times, April 5.Google Scholar
Marsh, Bill, and Connolly, Marjorie. 2010. “Rightward, March: The Midterm Exit Polls.” New York Times, November 6.Google Scholar
Martin, Jenny Beth, and Meckler, Mark. 2010. “On Being Labeled as ‘Racist.’” Politico, July 14.Google Scholar
Mayer, Jane. 2010. “Covert Operations.” New Yorker, August 30.Google Scholar
Media Matters. 2009. “Hosting the Party: Fox Aired at Least 20 Segments, 73 Promos on “Tea Party” Protests—in Just 8 Days,” April 15. http://mediamatters.org/research/200904150033?f=h_latest.Google Scholar
Mendelberg, Tali. 2001. The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages and the Norm of Equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mendelberg, Tali. 2008. “Racial Priming Revived.” Perspectives on Politics 6(1): 109–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, David. 1992. “Distributive Justice: What the People Think.” Ethics 102(3): 555–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, Sean J. 2010. “Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party Members Are Democrats or Independents.” The Hill, April 4.Google Scholar
Minkoff, Debra C. 2001. “Producing Social Capital: National Social Movements and Civil Society.” In Beyond Tocqueville: civil society and the social capital debate in comparative perspective, ed. Edwards, Bob, Foley, Michael W., and Diani, Mario. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 2010. “NAACP Delegates Unanimously Pass Tea Party Amendment: Nation's Oldest and Largest Civil Rights Groups Ask Tea Party to Repudiate Racist Factions.” Press Release, July 13.Google Scholar
NC Freedom. 2010. “Patriot Organizations' Declaration Re: FreedomWorks,” blog post expressing concerns about FreedomWorks' influence on the Tea Parties. June 20, 2010. http://ncfreedom.us/2010/06/20/patriot-organizations%E2%80%99-declaration-re-freedomworks/.Google Scholar
Neuman, Johanna. 2008. “As Voters Go to Polls to Pick His Successor, George W. Bush Hits New Low in Approval Rating.” Los Angeles Times, November 4.Google Scholar
Newport, Frank. 2010. Tea Party Supporters Overlap Republican Base. Gallup Survey Report. July 2. http://www.gallup.com/poll/141098/tea-party-supporters-overlap-republican-base.aspx.Google Scholar
Nicholas, Peter. 2010. “'Tea Party' Federation Severs Ties with Commentator over Lincoln Blog Post.” Los Angeles Times, July 19.Google Scholar
Packer, George. 2008. “The Fall of Conservatism.” New Yorker, May 26.Google Scholar
Parker, Christopher. 2010. “2010 Multi-state Survey on Race and Politics.” University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality. http://depts.washington.edu/uwiser/racepolitics.html.Google Scholar
Putnam, Robert D. 1995a. “Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America.” PS: Political Science and Politics 28(4): 664–83.Google Scholar
Putnam, Robert D. 1995b. “Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital.” Journal of Democracy 6(1): 6578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reilly, Ryan J. 2010. “Tea Party Express Spent Almost $600,000 To Support Miller in Alaska Primary.” TPM Muckraker, September 21. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/09/tea_party_express_spent_500000_to_support_miller.php.Google Scholar
Roth, Zachary. 2009. “FreedomWorks Says Jump, Tea Partiers Ask How High.” TPM Muckraker, August 11, 2009. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/08/freedomworks_says_jump_tea_partiers_ask_how_high.php?ref=fpb.Google Scholar
Saad, Lydia. 2010. “Tea Partiers are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics.” Gallup Survey Report. April 5. http://www.gallup.com/poll/127181/tea-partiers-fairly-mainstream-demographics.aspx.Google Scholar
Schaller, Tom. 2010. “Pollster Responds to Your Questions.” Interview with Christopher Parker, FiveThirtyEight.com, April 14. http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/04/pollster-responds-to-your-questions.html.Google Scholar
Sherman, Gabriel. 2010. “One Tea Party Convention Organizer Sued Over ‘Rock Star’ Palin's Speaker's Fee.” New York, March 24.Google Scholar
Silver, Nate. 2009. “Tea Party Nonpartisan Attendance Estimates: Now 300,000+.” FiveThirtyEight.com. http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/tea-party-nonpartisan-attendance.html.Google Scholar
Skocpol, Theda. 2000. The Missing Middle: Working Families and the Future of American Social Policy. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
Teles, Steven M. 2007. “Conservative Mobilization against Entrenched Liberalism.” In The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservativism, ed. Pierson, Paul and Skocpol, Theda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Thee, Megan. 2008. “Poll: Record High for Wrong-Track Rating.” New York Times, October 14.Google Scholar
Vogel, Kenneth P. 2010. “A Tea Party Patriots Overhaul.” Politico, September 20.Google Scholar
Wallsten, Peter, and Yadron, Danny. 2010. “Tea-Party Movement Gathers Strength.” Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2010, A1, A4.Google Scholar
Weaver, Vesla M. 2007. “Frontlash: Race and the Development of Punitive Crime Policy.” Studies in American Political Development 21(02): 230–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weigel, David. 2009. “Tea Party Activists Reject PAC-backed ‘Tea Party Express.’” Washington Independent, October 9.Google Scholar
Wilentz, Sean. 2010. “Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party's Cold War Roots.” New Yorker, October 18, 2010, 32–39.Google Scholar
Zernike, Kate. 2010a. “Disputes Among Tea Party Groups Are Taking a Toll on February Convention.” New York Times, January 26.Google Scholar
Zernike, Kate. 2010b. “For Tea Party, Sway Beyond Mere Numbers.” New York Times, Friday, October 15, A1, A17.Google Scholar
Zernike, Kate, and Thee-Brenan, Megan. 2010. “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.” New York Times, April 14.Google Scholar
186
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *