Grand Old (Tea) Party
I have written several posts about tea party politics, most recently on the question of whether the movement can actually serve as an umbrella organization for disaffected voters from both parties who want to focus on fiscal responsibility, while eschewing politically divisive social issues. My anecdotal observation of the movement had previously led me to a fairly firm no for an answer, that for all the talk of fiscal policy, the tea party phenomenon was at its core closely aligned with the Republican Party, and in particular derived much of its grassroots energy from social and religious conservatism. But after a spate of recent stories suggesting otherwise, I had started to think that maybe my initial intuition was wrong. Well, I don’t feel that way any longer.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that those who self-identify as tea partiers overwhelmingly lean toward the Republican Party, and have an especially high regard for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. In each case, three-quarters of the self-identifying tea partiers answered in the affirmative. With Palin representing as strong a motive force among social and religious conservatives as any high-profile member of the GOP today, it is inevitable that so-called values voters are inextricably woven into the dominant fabric of the tea party movement.
Given this political reality, the biggest question going forward will be whether the tea partiers create a new set of electoral headaches for Republican institutional elites by either challenging their incumbents from the right in primaries, or by running as third party candidates and siphoning off conservative votes in the general election. But my initial sense that there really isn’t much there for disaffected Democrats and left-leaning independents seems to be accurate after all.
Posted On: 03-24-2010 23:16:04 by Jim Splaine
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