Sarah Palin

CASE STUDY: Tea Time in America?

Christopher F. Karpowitz, Brigham Young University
J. Quin Monson, Brigham Young University
Kelly D. Patterson, Brigham Young University
Jeremy C. Pope, Brigham Young University

The Impact of the Tea Party Movement on the 2010 Midterm Elections
Given the extensive media attention that Tea Party rallies and other aspects of the movement have received, a key question is: How have Tea Party efforts translated into votes? Specifically, in the 2010 midterm elections, did a Tea Party endorsement lead to an increase in vote share for Republican candidates?1 One of the challenges of studying this movement is that by philosophy and design, it lacks a central leadership structure that coordinates nationwide efforts. Instead, the Tea Party is a far-flung patchwork of organizations, some local and some national, with a related set of issue concerns and positions. Some of these organizations—the Tea Party Patriots, the Campaign for Liberty, or Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, for example—choose not to endorse candidates. Other Tea Party–affiliated groups do offer official or public endorsements, although their efforts do not appear to be coordinated, and, as will become evident, patterns of endorsement vary widely across the different groups.

We identified several organizations or political leaders that either explicitly adopt the Tea Party label or are often identified by news organizations as affiliates of the movement. Groups that endorsed numerous candidates in numerous states and thus seemed to acquire a national presence included the Tea Party Express, the Independence Caucus, the Boston Tea Party, and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. Based on information from Tea Party organizations themselves and local and national press accounts, we compiled a dataset of variables charting whether each of these organizations endorsed the Republican candidate in every congressional district in the country.2 Because of her high profile within the movement and the fact that her candidate endorsements were heavily publicized,we also included a measure of whether Sarah Palin endorsed the Republican candidate. In addition to these national organizations and individuals,we searched the major newspapers within every state for any evidence of endorsement of congressional candidates by local Tea Party groups.

However, affiliation with the Tea Party also mattered in other important ways. Candidates endorsed by the Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin garnered approximately 8 to 9 percentage points more than candidates who did not receive an endorsement. Candidates who adopted the Tea Party label themselves by signing the Contract from America did even better, with their vote shares increasing by more than 20 points.11 In the 2010 Republican primaries, either bearing a Tea Party stamp of approval or showing a willingness to affiliate with Tea Party principles clearly improved a candidate’s electoral prospects.

Read the whole study here

UK’s MAIL ONLINE: ‘Tea Party’ Rebels Score Stunning Poll Victories

By Tom Leonard

They want to purify their party and their country, returning America to the honest, founding traditions of thrift, small government and self-reliance from which, they say, it has strayed.

And, like the protesters from whom they take their name (the Bostonians who demonstrated against British taxation by dumping tea into the city’s harbour in 1773), the Tea Party rebels are – by their own account – as ‘mad as hell’.

But whether they are a bunch of dotty extremists or not, the Tea Party phenomenon suddenly poses a serious threat.

On Tuesday night, the upsurge in anger among grassroots American conservatives, with both Barack Obama and the Republican Party, made itself spectacularly felt in the tiny, affluent state of Delaware.

In one of the least expected results of the primary season – in which candidates are chosen for November’s mid-term elections – Christine O’Donnell, a Tea Party-backed dissident Republican, beat a moderate and establishment favourite to win the party’s nomination for vice-president Joe Biden’s old seat in the U.S. Senate.

O’Donnell is a perennial candidate and former abstinence counsellor, who promotes complete celibacy before marriage and has a fierce stance on guns (pro), government spending (anti), abortion (anti) and masturbation (anti – it’s a sin, she says).

Her strong beliefs had prompted many – especially local Republican leaders – to write her off as unelectable.

But then Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate and a poster girl of the Tea Party movement, endorsed O’Donnell.

In a move that has proved electorally successful across the U.S., Mrs Palin described her as one of her ‘mama grizzlies’ – a term she has coined to describe her uncompromising conservative allies.

Grizzly bears may be common in the rough and ready Palin home state of Alaska, but in the more sophisticated environs of Delaware they are unheard of outside the zoo.

As the significance of O’Donnell’s victory (accompanied by similar Tea Party success in New York, where its multi-millionaire candidate, Carl Paladino, won a Republican primary for state governor) sank in yesterday, there was a feeling across America that if it can happen in Delaware, it can happen anywhere.

O’Donnell trilled from the podium to huge cheers: ‘Don’t ever underestimate the power of we the people.’ There is fat chance of that now.

Carl Paladino has won a Republican primary for state governor in New York

‘Nightmare’ was a common verdict among political commentators — not for Mr Obama’s Democrats, who are chuckling at the idea of a divided opposition, but for the Republican Party.

It sees its hopes of grabbing power in Congress and crushing key Obama immigration and global warming legislation dashed by the election of Tea Partiers who have little hope of attracting the crucial independent floating voters when it comes to the election in November.

That is why the Tea Party movement is such a mixed blessing for the Republicans.

Yes, its energy has galvanised the party as Obamania once electrified the Democrats. But it also has the potential to frighten away moderate, mainstream voters, disillusioned with the Obama regime.

Republicans shouted themselves hoarse insisting that O’Donnell, who has a history of financial problems and dubious claims about her education, would be unelectable in November — but the Tea Partiers still backed her.

For them, keeping the Democrats out of power matters less than ideological purity.

But then commentators admit to being baffled by the Tea Party movement. Much of the problem is that it is hardly a party at all — in fact, it is more a network of like-minds than an organisation.

Completely decentralised, true to its libertarian principles, it has no real leader (every Tea Partier is his or her own spokesman) and no formal membership structure.

If you call yourself a Tea Partier, then, hey, you are one.

More than 200 leaders of local tea parties, in an umbrella group called Tea Party Patriots, discuss developments every week in a conference call, but that is as far as any party hierarchy goes.

Jonathan Rauch, an academic who has studied the movement, describes the average member as ‘white, bright and right’ – a well-educated conservative who is now an independent, even if he or she generally supports Republican policies.

Accusations of racial exclusivity have dogged the movement, but Rauch says members are largely white as few blacks and Hispanics are conservatives.

Membership numbers are vague, but there are estimated to be tens of thousands of activists.

The movement itself claims to have 17million supporters, but that could include anyone who has ever expressed sympathy with the Tea Party philosophy.

As for that philosophy, congressional candidates are expected to follow a ten-point Contract From America agenda aimed at making Washington more accountable.

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THE ATLANTIC: Does the GOP Have a Tea Party Problem?

By Chris Good

A question hovering around the tea party movement has been: will it hurt Republicans at the polls in November, generating third-party candidates and sucking votes away from the GOP?

Polling released this past week by Quinnipiac says this is a possibility: with tea party candidates running in a generic race, Republicans go from winners to losers, with just 25% of the vote. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for its part, has put together a list of races involving conservative challengers, some running as third-party candidates, advertised as “Palin’s Primaries.”

I don’t know the answer to this question for sure, but I do know this: top tea party organizers are not interested in supporting third-party candidates, or in forming official Tea Party political parties in states, which means it’s unlikely we’ll see an organized movement to form Tea Parties and make trouble in GOP-stronghold districts.

In other words: the tea party movement won’t rise up to challenge the GOP, on a national scale, any time soon.

“Personally, I think it’s better to run within the established parties and try to change the parties,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national co-chair of the group Tea Party Patriots. Martin’s group claims to have 15 million members; after surveying local organizers, Tea Party Patriots leaders put out a statement making clear that it did not support the formation of a Tea Party political party.

With guidance from the Dick Armey-led FreedomWorks, the tea party movement figures to target, in organized fashion, about four House races and four Senate races this fall. None of those include third-party bids.

As far as third-party candidates go, it’s more likely that individuals will decide to run, without the encouragement of state or national organizers, seeking to claim the tea party mantle.

But it’s questionable whether such candidates would garner enough support to make a difference, despite the findings from Quinnipiac. It’s one thing to tell a pollster you like the idea of a tea party candidate–and, to be sure, some conservatives are upset with the Republican Party, based on TARP and Bush-era spending–but another thing to vote for a candidate who is polling low, especially if a Republican candidate has tacked sufficiently to the right.

We saw a tea partier run in the Massachusetts Senate race, but Joe Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy family, or to the other Joe Kennedy) only got 1% of the vote.

Continue reading at The Atlantic

NATIONAL POST: U.S. Tea Party to Focus on the Economy

While spending the weekend in Ottawa getting up to speed on the Canadian conservative movement, I was heartened to read this article today about the evolution of the conservative movement south of the border.

Apparently Tea Partiers have decided to focus on economic issues and eschew social conservatism as the basis of their movement. They are crafting a “Contract from America”, modeled on the Republican Contract With America, which successfully advanced a number of conservative reforms, including welfare reform, when the GOP controlled Congress in the 1990’s.

“We should be creating the biggest tent possible around the economic conservative issue,” said Ryan Hecker, the organizer behind the Contract From America. “I think social issues may matter to particular individuals, but at the end of the day, the movement should be agnostic about it. This is a movement that rose largely because of the Republican Party failing to deliver on being representative of the economic conservative ideology. To include social issues would be beside the point.”

Don’t know what this will mean for Sarah Palin, but it is heartening to those who feel that fiscal prudence, not hot button moral issues, should be at the core of rebuilding the American right.

Some of the Contract’s planks include:

  • Doing away with earmarks
  • Limiting the growth of federal spending to inflation plus the percentage of population growth
  • Requiring a two-thirds majority for any tax increase
  • Scrapping the tax code and replacing it with one no longer than 4,543 words (a number chosen to match the length of the Constitution, unamended. I wish them luck on that one.)

While social conservative issues are still being discussed, they are not dominating the agenda as they have been in the Republican Party. A survey of 50 leaders of the movement revealed that none of them put social issues as the Party’s number one priority. Most named the “budget” or “economy/jobs”.

Continue reading at the National Post