55 Percent of Americans Believe the Tea Party Is Focused on Economics; 27 Percent Believe Its Focus Is Both Economic and Social


Some of the largest and most prominent Tea Party organizations contend that their primary goal is economic in nature. The mission statement of Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest umbrella organizations, reads, "Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, Free Markets." Tea Party Express, who recently partnered with CNN to host a GOP Presidential debate, declares, "The Tea Party Express stands for 5 simple fiscal principles."

According to a recent Reason-Rupe survey, an overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters agree. When asked if the Tea Party movement is primarily about cutting spending and limited government or if it was equally about economics and social issues, 74 percent of Tea Party supporters say it's about cutting spending. However, among Americans who do not support the Tea Party, less than half believe the Tea Party is only about cutting spending and 27 percent believe it is equally about advocating social issues. Another 20 percent say they do not know whether the Tea Party is primarily about economics or both social and economic issues.

One's perception of the Tea Party significantly impacts one's view of the Tea Party in Washington D.C. Among those who believe the Tea Party is primarily about economic issues, 47 percent believe the Tea Party has had a positive impact and 37 percent believe it has had a negative impact on Washington. In contrast, among those who believe the Tea Party is equally about social and economic issues, 65 percent believe the Tea Party has had a negative impact compared to 23 percent who believe its impact has been positive.

Among those who believe the Tea Party is primarily about economic issues, half would consider voting for a Tea Party presidential candidate and half would not. However, among those who believe social issues are equally important to the Tea Party, 62 percent would not consider a Tea Party presidential candidate, and only 29 percent would. 

Tea Party perceptions also correlate with favored approaches for dealing with the deficit. Among those who believe the Tea Party is primarily about economic issues, 43 percent favor the Congressional Tea Party Caucus' approach to oppose all new taxes, compared to 31 percent among those who perceive the Tea Party to be about social and economic issues. Interestingly, a majority of both groups oppose the Congressional Tea Party Caucus' approach to opposing bills that would raise federal tax revenues.

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. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll's fieldwork. View full methodology.

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  1. The percentage should be higher. After all, it’s modeled on the Boston Tea Party, which was solely about taxes, not same sex marriage.

  2. Okay, so I’m late to the party here, but the first question is badly phrased. The Tea Party Caucus is not against “any bill that would increase federal tax revenues” but against any bill that would increase tax rates. Revenues can, under some conditions, increase with a rate decrease, and decrease with a rate increase. Rate and Revenues are not the same.

  3. Whatever the “perception” is, Tea Party members are actually considerably to the right of the rest of the GOP on social issues, too. “Tea party Republicans are roughly twice as likely to say that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and roughly half as likely to support gay marriage”: http://politicalticker.blogs.c…..-movement/

    Libertarians who support the Tea Party will find that the lamb they thought they were lying down with actually has some pretty big statist claws…

    1. The poll you reference was conducted of GOP voters who will project their values onto the tea party movement.

      Inflexible social republicans try to ally with and hijack the tea party because they sense momentum and a similar determination in tea party members on fiscal issues, that large amounts of compromise will not result in a satisfactory outcome. Thus these more extreme social conservatives try to piggyback on the economic message of the tea party. For the most part, statements of values by the tea party movement have eschewed social policies.

      One can sympathize with most economic aspirations of the tea party movement while rejecting GOP attempts to inject social statism.

    2. Before there ever was a tea party Michelle Bachman was already Crazy Jesus Lady.

  4. I think it should also be noted that a movement doesn’t necessarily have to reflect every predominent ideology of its followers. It may very well be true that the bulk of Tea Party supporters are as socially conservative as they are fiscally conservative, but the movement was born out of people being disgusted by the rampant spending of the neocons, not from a belief that the GOP at large isn’t socially conservative enough. Granted, that doesn’t mean that if they have a little success on the fiscal issues, they may turn around and flex their muscles on the social issues, but for now, the movement is focused on the fiscal.

  5. I once considered getting involved with the tea party, but I changed my mind after looking at the big names; Palin, Backman, and to some degree Perry. Even if they end this super bad daydream BO has given us, we’ll end-up in full fledged nightmare under them.

  6. I believe that luck is a perceptual view based on a belief that something circumstancial, be it a trinket of some sort, a lucky charm, or a mystical belief based on supersticious ideas can cause situations to work out for your The right time and the right place has some merit in regards to this; however, I think that to be successful requires greatly detailed thought processes which evaluate a purpose and identify the steps needed to create the desired successful outcome. Once this type of integrated thought is realized the work begins. To take what is written down as the plan of success and implement it through determined effort towards the accomplishment of the success plan is what makes it happen. Thought is the genorater initially as you must research what is needed to make your plan a success. It’s like that old saying, “I think and therefore I am.” – ????? ??????
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