The GOP Divided: Tea Party Supporters and the Republican Party

Besides a recent CNN poll and some academic analysis, little has been done to study the differences between Tea Party supporters and non-Tea Party Republicans. Yet many still make the claim that the Tea Party movement is in fact the GOP base, more conservative and more Republican. Reason-Rupe survey data reveal demographic similarities between Tea Party supporters and non-Tea Party Republicans, but also differences in their level of commitment to fiscal conservatism, approach to politics, and partisan identification.

Commitment to Fiscal Conservatism 

Overall, Tea Party supporters and non-Tea Party Republicans are quite similar on economic issues, with Tea Partiers having slightly more intense preferences. For example 86 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans favor a government spending-cap compared to 95 percent of Tea Partiers. Seventy six percent of non-Tea Party Republicans favor a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, compared to 87 percent of Tea Partiers. Sixty seven percent of non-Tea Party Republicans believe cutting spending will mostly help the economy, compared to 76 percent of Tea Party supporters. Tea Partiers are less likely to believe the government would keep its promise to use increased tax revenues to reduce the deficit, with 81 percent of Tea Partiers believing that the government would use increased tax revenues to spend on new programs compared to 68 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.

However, Tea Partiers are more adamant in their opposition to tax hikes. Fifty eight percent of Tea Partiers want to reduce the national deficit with only spending decreases, compared to 46 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. A majority of Tea Partiers oppose increasing taxes on the wealthy, compared to 57 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans, who would favor such a proposal.

Entitlements

Both groups agree that it is primarily the responsibility of the individual to plan for retirement income (72 percent for both groups) and purchase health insurance in retirement (55 percent and 59 percent for non-Tea Party and Tea Party members, respectively). Both are willing to reduce their Social Security and Medicare benefits if they were guaranteed to receive what they and their employer contributed into the system (69 percent and 65 percent for Social Security, respectively; 66 percent and 67 percent for Medicare, respectively).

However, Tea Party members are far more likely than non-Tea Party Republicans to strongly favor allowing individuals to opt out of Social Security if they choose (53 percent and 38 percent, respectively). The same is true for Medicare, with 51 percent of Tea Partiers favoring strongly compared to 33 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.

Approach

Significant differences between Tea Party supporters and non-Tea Party Republicans emerge over approach to reform. Sixty nine percent of Tea Party supporters favor the Congressional Tea Party Caucus’ approach to opposing bills that would increase federal tax revenues, compared to 36 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. Seventy eight percent of Tea Partiers believe that the Tea Party has had a positive impact on the way Washington D.C. works, compared to 37 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. Seventy five percent of Tea Partiers would consider voting for a Tea Party presidential candidate running against President Obama and the Republican presidential nominee in the 2012 presidential election, compared to 43 percent among non-Tea Party Republicans.

Security 

Non-Tea Party Republicans are slightly more confident that the TSA would prevent a terrorist attack, with 59 percent very or somewhat confident. However, Tea Party supporters are evenly divided with 50 percent very or somewhat confident in the TSA compared to 49 percent who are slightly or not at all confident. Seventy two percent of non-Tea Party Republicans believe the TSA has made air travel safer, compared to 64 percent of Tea Partiers.

Tea Party supporters are substantially more likely to favor replacing TSA personnel with private security screeners, with 61 percent in favor, compared to 44 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.

Seventy percent of Tea Party supporters believe “we have less personal freedom now” compared to 51 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans. Moreover, 59 percent of Tea Party supporters believe “we have given up too much freedom and privacy in the name of security,” compared to 47 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans who agree.

Self-Identification

Nearly half of Tea Party supporters are ostensibly de-branded Republicans. Although they may vote Republican, 42 percent refuse to identify with either the Republican or Democratic parties. In comparison, 67 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans self-identify as Republican and 31 percent as Independent. Among Independents who were asked which direction they lean, 97 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans said they were closer to the Republican Party, while only 49 percent of Tea Partiers agreed. Instead, 33 percent of Tea Partiers said they still choose to align with “neither” party.

Nevertheless, 58 percent of Tea Partiers identify as conservative and 20 percent as moderate, compared to 46 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans who identify as conservative and 31 percent as moderate. The allocation of ideological political groups shows more communitarians and liberals among non-Tea Party Republicans, and primarily conservatives and libertarians among Tea Partiers. What communitarians and liberals share in common is greater fiscal liberalism, and what libertarians and conservatives share in common is greater fiscal conservatism. This suggests that not all the religious conservatives are found in the Tea Party. 

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Clickhere for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

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  • ||

    These polls have a heads I win tails you lose quality to them. If the Tea Party agrees with the Republican position, then the headline is how the Tea Party is nothing but Republican AstroTurf. If they disagree and are trying to change the Party, then the spin is how they are causing a civil war in the Party.

  • Gojira||

    I'm shocked at the low levels of support amongst standard-template republicans for allowing people to voluntarily opt out of SS or medicare. Small gov't, indeed.

  • ||

    If we can opt out, then we can also argue that we shouldn't be paying the extra tax.

  • ||

    At this point, any reduction in disparity would be better than full out risk. Frankly, I'd pay a 1% penalty to be able to invest the 3%. Bonus points if my employer gives me half of the 4.2 he had to pay on my behalf.

  • Tim||

    I've noticed that as well.

  • Joe M||

    I don't see how a civil war in the GOP is a bad thing.

  • Ice Nine||

    Neither does Obama.

  • fish||

    ...and you act surprised by this characterization.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    We shall fight in the comments, we shall fight in... uh... I guess that's it. But we shall never surrender!

    Alt-text forever!

  • Tim||

    History will remember the Tea Party as the extreme right wing hate group that destroyed the career of America's first black president.

  • ||

    that destroyed the career of America's first black president.

    Herman Cain?

  • ||

    Bill Clinton, of course.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    First Jewish president then.

  • ||

    I though FDR was a secret Jew?

  • ||

    Thought!

  • Tim||

    If he can't go down as "great" he can claim victimhood.

  • Barack Obama||

    If he can't go down as "great" he can claim victimhood.

    Hmmm...."Obama the Great", "Obamulus Magnus", has a nice ring to it! And let me be clear, opposition would be unpatriotic.

  • ||

    The Great Victimizer?

  • ||

    Obamulus Victumus!!

  • Neu Mejican ||

    Nearly half of Tea Party supporters are ostensibly de-branded Republicans. Although they may vote Republican, 42 percent refuse to identify with either the Republican or Democratic parties. In comparison, 67 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans self-identify as Republican and 31 percent as Independent. Among Independents who were asked which direction they lean, 97 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans said they were closer to the Republican Party, while only 49 percent of Tea Partiers agreed. Instead, 33 percent of Tea Partiers said they still choose to align with “neither” party.

    So a third of Republicans aren't Republicans. And 4 out of 10 of the Tea Party are not Republicans.

    Sounds like a third party emerging.

  • Phlogistan||

    I'm listening... Go on

  • ||

    You know who else created a Third Way?

  • ||

  • Gojira||

    You know, I'm not big on religion, but looking around that website, those folks seem to have a good thing worked out there.

  • your mom||

    me?

  • Robert||

    That is strange. Either the report is fucked up or they asked the question 2 different ways, first to classify someone as a Republican, then to "identify" them as such. In states with party enrollment as a public record, I suppose they could've gotten Republican sample that way, but then it's not a fair national poll because the sample would've been obtained differently in other states.

  • ||

    Yeah, my question is if 67% of Republicans self-identify as Republicans, what is the basis for the pollster identifying the other 33% as Republicans? Which primary they participate in?

  • cynical||

    Who they tend to vote for? Basically, they don't identify as Republicans, but see them as the lesser evil.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How are they finding tea partiers to question? Are they registered somewhere?

  • Gojira||

    Actually yes, they are...on attackwatch.com.

  • ||

    *golf clap*

  • ||

    None of this matters. When it comes time to vote, most of these people will vote GOP, just like most Dems who say they are "independents" will vote Dem. They can answer polls all they like but their voting habits will not change from their default TEAM positions.

    Polls are so very, very fucking useless.

  • Phlogistan||

    Ooooo! I'd love having the options to vote enough for it to become a habit!

  • ||

    Polls are so very, very fucking useless

    So says 67% of those asked.

  • ||

    Actually, 67% of the people who think polls are very, very fucking useless responded that polls are very, very fucking useless.

  • ||

    Depends. They will vote for insurgent candidates in the primaries. The Tea Party got rid of Bob Bennett and Mike Castle. That is not a bad thing. And they will probably do in Orin Hatch in 2012. They have clearly drove the Republican Party further right and away from the big government David Brooks, Frum end of the spectrum. And that is not a bad thing.

  • SIV||

    Taking out Hatch should convert some more the nayayers around here.

  • Brett L||

    On to the really important questions. Will the new Zoey Deschanel sitcom be unwatchable even with her unbearable cuteness of being? I vote, unfortunately, yes.

  • sarcasmic||

    more than likely

  • ||

    Most definitely yes, since 1) she's not that cute, and 2) sitcoms are where comedy goes to fucking die. This question is like asking if Two and a Half Men will be funny now with Kutcher replacing Charlie (there is no implication in that sentence that it was funny even with Charlie, just to be clear).

  • ||

    Any cuteness Deschanel had ended when she married this hipster douche bag.

    http://www.google.com/search?q.....40&bih=680

  • ||

    I'm not up on my pop culture, but what's the difference between her and Katy Perry?

  • ||

    Huge boobs. And every one knew Perry was a complete half wit. So you can kind of excuse her for marrying the guy. Hell, she probably doesn't even understand what being married means.

  • WTF||

    Katy Perry has bigger tits.

  • Restoras||

    Personally, I think she's better looking, at least from all the high retouched pics on dah intertoobz.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I don't think Katy Perry is a half-wit. I think part of her act is being kind of a dingbat. She was pretty funny on SNL last season. And anyways, who cares? She's a singer. That girl can belt out a tune! I really only listen to punk rock, but I tell you, that girl can SING.

  • johnl||

    Zoe has a great voice and is a good songwriter.

  • ||

    Whoa. That's brutal, even by B-grade Hollywood standards.

  • Joe M||

    Don't hate on DCFC! They actually put out some good music.

  • ||

    Not that I have ever heard. I hate hipster white boy bands. And worse, they have the worst name of any band ever.

  • Joe M||

    Hence the abbreviation. I don't like all their music but they have done a handful of good tunes. It's easier to enjoy music if you never look up photos of the bands. For proof, see the 1980s.

  • ||

    This is the reason it's almost impossible for me to listen to any black metal band despite the fact I like a lot of the riffs. Maybe it's shallow but they're normally so goofy looking I can't get the images out of my mind.

  • Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band||

    It was a Neil Innes song.

  • ||

    Hahaha DCB sucks balls

  • T||

    Further proof that being a musician enables you to punch way out of your normal weight class.

  • Tim||

    She needs a sitcom on HBO with a lot of full frontal and ...you know. I'd watch that.

  • Brett L||

    I sat through Tin Man to watch her, so maybe I've just got a fetish.

  • Tim||

    She's starting to look a little long in the tooth.

    http://www.fox.com/new-girl/

  • ||

    She is really the homely sister. Emily is pretty damned cute. But Zoe gets homelier every year.

  • Tim||

    Emily Ekins?

  • ||

    Emily Deshenel Zoe's sister. Does she go by her married name now?

  • ||

    If she does, it's not Elkins. Emily Deschanel is married to David Hornsby, who is better known to watchers of excellent television as Rickety Cricket from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ditto. I fell in lust in the theater watching Hitchhiker's Guide.

  • Doug||

    I tumbled when I saw her in The Happening and Live Free or Die. It's her matter-of-fact personality as much as anything.

  • Professional Critic||

    Saw it on a JetBlue flight last week. She's cute, but her character is too twee, and the show is lame.

  • Invisible Finger||

    It might be unlistenable, but watching with the sound off might work.

  • Joe M||

    Threadjack: Gary Johnson is going to be in the Fox/Google debate Thursday!

    Scroll down to the section titled "Nine Podia!" This is great, fantastic, wonderful news, probably the best news of the campaign season so far.

  • ||

    Fuck Gary Johnson -- Ron Paul is the shit

  • ||

    I'd be thrilled if they were both at the debates. I've given money to both, too, though Paul has gotten more lately.

  • Joe M||

    Same here.

  • ||

    That's the thing -- we should pour all our support in a single candidate's direction, or we'll divide the vote and POOF, no decent candidate gets the nomination

  • Joe M||

    Two libertarianish voices on stage in the same debate can do nothing but increase the legitimacy of their positions. They will reinforce each other. And maybe Johnson can actually get some traction now that more people are watching the debates.

  • ||

    No, the fact that he's there is great. I just hope all of his supporters turn around and go for Ron Paul. We need all the help we can get with his chances.

  • Joe M||

    I'd rather see them both polling higher, but I'm not ruling out either. If Gary Johnson starts to move, I will gladly support him more. And remember Paul and Johnson don't have 100% overlap in their beliefs anyway.

    Johnson has less baggage, is younger, and is slightly more modest in his goals, all of which I think that would all translate to better electability in the general. But if either got the GOP nomination, I would be campaigning hard for them. The Kochtopus does not control me.

  • ||

    Same here. Whichever one of them gets through to the later stages of the campaign in better shape is the guy I'm rooting for.

  • kilroy||

    Wow. I thought the Paultards were suppose to be about the principles and consistency and respect for the constitution. Just the mention of Gary Johnson, who embodies all of those qualities, puts the lie to that it seems. I guess Paul has become the Messiah.

  • ||

    Johnson's a pretty good candidate, sure. But he's pragmatic. He's heavily consequentialist. His positions aren't as "radical". If Paul dropped out, don't get me wrong, I'd go for Johnson all the frigging way.

    And I'm not a Paultard, asshat. Ron Paul, for all his popularity and reputation, isn't even close to the sort of limited government I'd want. I'm supporting the guy so rabidly because he's by fucking far the best in the race.

  • kilroy||

    Fuck Gary Johnson -- Ron Paul is the shit

    You got the Paultard label for that stupid shit right there. If you'd posted your position with a modicum of civility, I wouldn't have used it.

  • ||

    I was going more for "certain and fervently determined supporter" with "fuck Gary Johnson -- Ron Paul is the shit", not a blow-off of Johnson himself.

    I apologize for not making it clearer, I guess.

  • kilroy||

    Fair enough. For the record I have donated to both candidates. Johnson has stated if he doesn't make a significant showing in NH he's going to go back to skiing, climbing, etc. If that happens I'm sure he'll throw his support behind Paul and I'll be right there too.

  • ||

    I wouldn't go that far, but I agree that some Ron Paul supporters have shown an anger towards Gary Johnson that is a little too cultish for my taste. I have a lot of problems with Ron Paul the man but have supported him because the policies he espouses are light years ahead of any other candidate running for president. I think the same is true of Gary Johnson, and if you're focused on the message rather than the person I'm not sure how you can champion one and trash the other.

  • Joe M||

    if you're focused on the message rather than the person I'm not sure how you can champion one and trash the other.

    Exactly. The more people talking about the right things, the better.

  • ||

    Guess you're right. +2

  • ||

    Inviting in the niche, come on guys, its a small room.

  • ||

    Fuck Ron Paul - Gary Johnson has real experience!

    Uh oh, now 33% of Libertarians are starting a new even less important party.

  • ||

    Will they ask him more than "What's your favorite color?"?

    Stay tuned!

  • Doug||

    That the differences are so miniscule only supports my belief that the GOP's core problem is dogma. They're so obsessed with the purity of their ideology they'd rather fracture than come to a common ground.

    In my mind the GOP's brand has become "Stay the Course". And that in a Titanic kind of way.

  • Tony||

    This is clearly a bogus poll. These people are fascists of the worst ilk.

  • Jason||

    You wouldn't know a fascist if you were one.

  • ||

    You mean National Socialists?

  • ||

    So dudes, I'm planning to fly the Blood-Stained Banner to irritate and enrage the living shit out of all the pinko fucks (and other assorted statists) living on my block.

    Do you think that's what it should be, or should I just go ahead and fly the rectangular Battle Flag instead?

  • Tim||

    I say wipe your ass with a bedsheet and hang that. You'll be hailed as an avant garde artiste AND get a check from NEA.

  • ||

    That made me laugh, so kudos, but I was serious.

    I'm going for provocative here. What should it be?

  • Tim||

    You want advice from a Yankee? Go with the first one-it'll outrage and confuse them all at once.

  • ||

    I really hate neo-Confederates that play "An Old Unreconstructed". This line in it pisses me off every time:

    "At a little creek called Bull Run, we took their starry rag to wipe our horses down with, and I ain't here to brag."

    They're calling Old Glory a starry rag. And they're wiping their horses down with it. Fuck you, lyricist who wrote that song. Fuck you sideways.

    And yes, I want advice from a Yankee. I'm a Soviet-born North Carolinian, dontcha know.

  • T||

    If anybody complains, ask them what the flag is. If they can't answer correctly, tell them to piss off until they know what they're talking about.

  • creech||

    Do you intend to fly the Battle Flag every day or just on Marse Robert's, Stonewall's, and Jeff Davis' birthdays?
    [Disclaimer: their cause did not
    deserve their courage.]

  • ||

    It's all purely to cause controversy and outrage, like I said. I don't have any particular liking of the Confederacy, if that's what the joke implied.

  • Gimlet||

    You want controversy? Hang the Confederate flag along with a rainbow flag of equal size. Or better still, a rainbow confederate flag:

    http://burndownblog.files.word.....=250&h=156

  • T||

    That'd confuse the hell out of a lot of people.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Oh shit! I just spit grapefruit juice on my laptop. That's hee-larry-ous!

  • Brett L||

    Honestly, I see this going over well in Tallahassee, Atlanta, and Gainesville.

  • cynical||

    I smirked.

  • Kenneth||

    In comparison, 67 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans self-identify as Republican and 31 percent as Independent.
    How is it determined that they're "non-Tea Party Republicans" if they don't self-identify as Republicans?

  • Jason||

    I think I got called for this survey!

  • ||

    One of the most accurate and simple litmust tests for public-policy-simpleton-hood is to ask what the person understands and thinks about social security and medicare.

    Support for social security as it is reveals a complete and utter inability to understand the simplest concepts.

  • ||

    I have an IQ higher than some 98% of all humans - so the tests say - and I support Social Security.

    But for the life of me, your sentence structure is confusing as hell. And if you ask most intelligent people, absolutism is indicative of simplistic thinking.

    But then again, skimming over the comments on Reason, it appears this site is mostly defined by irony, not reason.

  • ||

    But for the life of me, your sentence structure is confusing as hell.

    They obviously didn't test your reading comprehension skills.

    Oh, and DRINK!

  • ||

    n=.....100?

    Is it so cumbersome as to post sampling size?

  • ||

    Save America...Disrupt and Destroy Tea party!

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