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Wolf, Downs, and Ortsey: Who's Your Tea Party? Evidence from Indiana

Topics: Indiana , Interpreting polls , midterm , Tea Party movement

Michael Wolf is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana University. He can be reached at wolfm@ipfw.edu.

Andrew Downs is Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics and is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Indiana University. He can be reached at downsa@ipfw.edu.

Craig Ortsey is a Continuing Lecturer of Political Science at Indiana University. he can be reached at ortseyc@ipfw.edu.

The authors would like to thank Brian Schaffner for his suggestions on an earlier draft of this piece.

Tea Party observers have floated two explanations for the group's emergence since their unexpectedly intense protests last year. The first explanation - embraced by conservative commentators and the movement itself - is that the Tea Party is comprised of grassroots citizens upset at the direction of the country and the deficit. Democrats champion a second explanation, that the Tea Party is composed of Republicans upset that President Obama and the Democrats control Washington. If the Tea Party is a movement against Washington politicians no matter their political stripes, then establishment Republicans must be wary of disaffected voters picking off their incumbents in primaries and President Obama faces a genuine rejection among voters he attracted in 2008. If it is simply Republicans upset at losing the presidency, 2010 looks more like a normal midterm election than an anti-incumbent revolt.

To get a better feel for the political dynamics behind the Tea Party, The Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics asked registered Indiana voters whether they identified with the Tea Party, their vote intention for the Republican primary, and a series of election-related questions. Our first noteworthy finding is that 36% of registered likely Hoosier voters identified themselves with the Tea Party, while 61% of Republicans did.

Contrary to the "throw the bums out" rhetoric surrounding the movement, however, a plurality of Tea Partiers intended to vote for Dan Coats to be the Republican nominee for US Senate. Coats, a former senator and lobbyist who had homes in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. (but not Indiana) prior to jumping into the race, was recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and was clearly the Washington establishment candidate. The candidates who reached out most aggressively to the Tea Partiers, Bates, Behney, and Stutzman, did relatively better with Tea Partiers than with non-Tea Party identifiers, but they still lagged behind Coats. Between this poll and the election, Stutzman's support surged, but that movement was more likely due to Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund's late but strong support of his candidacy than due to a grassroots shift of non-Republican Tea Partiers looking his way.

downs-table.png So where were the pitchforks and torches against establishment Washington? Our findings demonstrate that Tea Partiers are overwhelmingly Republican. The blue bars in Figure 1 show the percentage of Indiana Tea Partiers in each partisan category. Four in ten Hoosier Tea Partiers are strong Republicans, and when weak Republicans and independents who lean Republican are added to the strong Republicans, nearly 80 percent of Tea Party identifiers are Republican Party adherents. Less than 10 percent of Tea Partiers are Democrats or independents who lean Democratic. True independents make up less than 13 percent of Tea Partiers.

The second piece of evidence that supports the position that the Tea Party is a Republican phenomenon comes from the red bars of Figure 1. Here the percentage of Indiana Tea Partiers who voted for Obama in 2008 is presented across each category of party identification. Less than seven percent of all Tea Party adherents voted for Obama, and they are largely comprised of a handful of disappointed Democrats. The differences between the red and blue bars represent McCain supporters, implying that the great majority of Tea Party independents were McCain voters and even half of the Tea Party Democrats were McCain voters. The genesis of Tea Party identification does not result from a rejection of Obama by his own supporters; rather, it arises more from upset McCain supporters - hardly a broad-based grassroots movement.downs-chart1.png What explains this pattern of Tea Party identification that looks as if it may have begun on November 5, 2008 rather than after the stimulus bills or auto bailouts? If the Tea Party were a response to the conditions of the country or frustration with spending, then a negative view of the direction of the country or a concern over the deficit should lead to an even distribution of Tea Party identification across party identification, or perhaps a bell-curve distribution concentrated among those independents who identify with the Tea Party. To test for these possibilities, we ran a logit model that yielded four significant explanatory variables. Two of these variables are issues associated with the Tea Party: believing that the US is on the "wrong track," and holding that the deficit is the most important issue facing the US. Another two significant variables are longer-term determinants: party identification and voting for John McCain in 2008. A factor analysis shows that party identification, view of national direction, and 2008 presidential vote all hang together as a single factor (the results of the logit model and factor analysis are available upon request). These outcomes imply that it is unlikely that the distribution of those viewing the national direction poorly is separate from Republican identifiers who voted for McCain. However, the salience of the deficit issue may still lead non-Republicans to be more apt to identify with the Tea Party and that distribution may be concentrated outside of Republicans.

Figure 2 indicates that this hypothesis is not correct. It presents the predicted probability of identifying with the Tea Party when one views the deficit as the most important issue (blue bars), the probability of Tea Party identification when the respondent believes that the deficit is the most important issue and views the US as being on the wrong track (maroon bars), and these two factors combined with voting for John McCain in 2008 (yellow bars) across each category of party identification. The overall message of this figure is that party identification conditions all of the factors that increase the probability of Tea Party identification. The distribution of deficit hawks' likelihood of identifying with the Tea Party is not a bell-shaped curve centered around independents, and in fact follows the strength of party identification in a nearly perfect progressive step-by-step pattern. When combining this factor with the view that the country is on the wrong track and (in a second step) with having voted for McCain, it is clear that the robust explanation for Tea Party identification is related to Republican Party identification rather than a populist reaction to national direction and deficits. What makes this result even more dramatic is when Figure 2 is juxtaposed against Figure 1. The predicted probability of Democrats identifying with the Tea Party given these attitudes looks impressive in Figure 2 (roughly 0.5 to 0.6 probability of Democrats identifying with the Tea Party when they hold these attitudes and voted for McCain). However, there are almost no Democrats who hold these attitudes and who voted for McCain. Only nine of the 343 Tea Party identifiers are strong Democrats, weak Democrats, or Democratic-leaning independents who hold these attitudes and voted for McCain. In other words, the maximum 0.6 probability of Tea Party identification by Democrats of any stripe given these conditions is deceptively strong. On the other hand, it is very telling for Republicans. Indeed, the variable with the largest marginal influence on Tea Party identification is voting for McCain in 2008, but for Hoosiers this act is intertwined tightly with Republican Party identification and viewing the country on the wrong track. downs-chart2.pngOf the two explanations for the Tea Party's rise (a grassroots non-partisan movement upset at Washington policy versus Republican frustration with losing the 2008 election and the Obama administration's policies), our evidence from Indiana supports the latter. The Tea Party in Indiana is a Republican phenomenon whose effects will most likely be on voter mobilization rather than voter choice in next November's elections. While these results are only from one state, there is reason to think that a state with a culture of Midwestern agricultural individualism would be more likely than most states to have a Tea Party movement independent of partisan politics. The fact that it is not bodes ill for the grassroots explanation being correct in other states. The Tea Party is popular because it has provided aggrieved Republicans with a "reset" button unconnected to the past. Rather than voicing their frustrations by placing "Don't Blame Me! I Voted for McCain!" bumper stickers on their cars (which we do not expect to see soon in Indiana or elsewhere), the development of the Tea Party has operated as a convenient vehicle for Republican grievances that is unconnected to the unpopular end of the Bush era.

Note: Statement on Methodology: This SurveyUSA poll was conducted by telephone using the voice of a professional announcer. Respondent households were selected at random, using a registration based sample (RBS) provided by Aristotle of Washington DC. All respondents heard the questions asked identically. The calls were conducted from April 22-26, 2010. The number of respondents who answered each question and the margin of sampling error for each question are provided. Where necessary, responses were weighted according to the voter registration database. In theory, with the stated sample size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results would not vary by more than the stated margin of sampling error in one direction or the other had the entire universe of respondents been interviewed with complete accuracy. There are other possible sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. These include refusals to be interviewed, question wording and question order, weighting by demographic control data, and the manner in which respondents are filtered (such as determining who is a likely voter). It is difficult to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. Fieldwork for this survey was done by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ.

 

Comments
Wong:

Excellent analysis which strikes directly at the heart of the false narrative that the Tea party movement is a "populist revolt."

"..the development of the Tea Party has operated as a convenient vehicle for Republican grievances that is unconnected to the unpopular end of the Bush era."

Pretty much says it all.

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GARY WAGNER:

Of course the tea party is primarily made up of republicans. Only an idiot would claim otherwise. The democrats have increased spending by 50% in the past 3 years and the deficit is 5 times bigger than when they took over congress.

The overwhelming majority of democrats don't care about deficits, don't care about run away spending, don't care about skyrocketing taxes, don't care about the destruction of healthcare. Why would they oppose what Washington is doing? They've had a love affair with Washington since Pelosi and Reid rode into town and ruined the country.

By the way - that is when the tea party movement started - not in 2008 like these "scholars" falsely claim. They should know better. There were tea party rallies here in Indiana as early as 2005. They seem to want to pretend that didn't happen because it doesn't fit their theory.

The liberals just can't wrap their brains around this movement. They think that the worst possible insult to throw at a person is to call them "republicans".

Why would the democrats revolt? They still think hope and change is coming.

The "grassroot" movement for Obama in 2008 was entirely democrats. Where were all the articles about how that movement was nothing more than a bunch of mean old drunk racist radical redneck democrats mad that Bush was president?

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Golem LeChat:

Gary Wagner: You're a very funny man.

The article questioned the claim that the Tea Party represents a new, grass-roots movement. Research demonstrated that in Indiana, the Tea Party movement was not much different than the state's mainstream Republican party. In your comments above, you essentially agreed with the study's findings.

As to why you felt compelled to go on an apoplectic diatribe, I can only assume it's because you're frustrated that your understanding of the world does not jibe with reality.

Now that you've vented, consider the larger question the article addresses: that groups such as the Tea Party rely on mythical narratives to feel good about themselves. By claiming "grass-roots" status, Tea Party Republicans can claim that they had nothing to do with the failures of the Bush administration. Psychologists have a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

Gary (if I may), your comments above demonstrate that you are also suffering from cognitive dissonance. The mushrooming debt trace back nearly 30 years to the Reagan administration, not Pelosi and Reid. Your claim that Democrats have no regard for deficits ignores that fact that a Democrat (Clinton) was the only president in the last 30 years to balance the budget, while Republican administrations steadily scored record deficit after record deficit.

If I may offer a piece of advice, Gary: stop trying to make reality conform to what you would like it to be. Instead, start working with the reality we've all got.

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Golem LeChat:

Gary Wagner: You're a very funny man.

The article questioned the claim that the Tea Party represents a new, grass-roots movement. Research demonstrated that in Indiana, the Tea Party movement was not much different than the state's mainstream Republican party. In your comments above, you essentially agreed with the study's findings.

As to why you felt compelled to go on an apoplectic diatribe, I can only assume it's because you're frustrated that your understanding of the world does not jibe with reality.

Now that you've vented, consider the larger question the article addresses: that groups such as the Tea Party rely on mythical narratives to feel good about themselves. By claiming "grass-roots" status, Tea Party Republicans can claim that they had nothing to do with the failures of the Bush administration. Psychologists have a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

Gary (if I may), your comments above demonstrate that you are also suffering from cognitive dissonance. The mushrooming debt trace back nearly 30 years to the Reagan administration, not Pelosi and Reid. Your claim that Democrats have no regard for deficits ignores that fact that a Democrat (Clinton) was the only president in the last 30 years to balance the budget, while Republican administrations steadily scored record deficit after record deficit.

If I may offer a piece of advice, Gary: stop trying to make reality conform to what you would like it to be. Instead, start working with the reality we've all got.

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Jerry B:

The Tea Party movement is made up of hundreds of local movements. So the movement in Indiana may be based on buyer's remorse, while the groups in Utah, Florida, and NY-23 are obviously about cleaning house.

There have been dozens of down ballot primary races here in Texas that fell victim to the anti-incumbency mood of the country. Most notable was on the State Board of Education and Railroad Commissioner.

So the study of Indiana is not further evidence of the whole movement, but only relevant to Indiana.

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George Ehrhardt:

I enjoyed reading this--it's cool to hear actual political scientists looking at the Tea Parties instead of blathering pundits. Props to my old colleagues and co-author from Big Red! :)

I've been following my local TPs in a qualitative sense, so it was interesting to hear a quantitative analysis. In a spirit of collegiality and hopes you go further with this, I had some thoughts I figured I'd share. As I read the piece, you're saying that the TP'ers in Indiana are not grassroots activists, just run-of-the-mill McCain voters because: 1) they support Dan Coats, 2) almost all TP'ers voted for McCain, and 3) voting for McCain is the biggest predictor of TP membership.

Argument #1) You say "Between this poll and the election, Stutzman's support surged, but that movement was more likely due to Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund's late but strong support of his candidacy than due to a grassroots shift of non-Republican Tea Partiers looking his way." 1) What is the evidence for this claim? 2) Maybe Dan Coats is just a way better candidate--I don't know, but it's a viable alternative you need to reject, and 3) If we allow the possibility that voters view politicians on a vague scale of "more establishment less establishment" rather than a binary "in DC or not," DeMint's opposition to the Senate leadership's choices in this race and others (like the FL primary) suggests the alternative hypothesis that Tea Partiers saw DeMint's endorsement/effort as a cue that Stutzman is "less establishment." How can we test whether your claim that "DeMint is responsible for the swing" supports your larger argument or rejects it?

Argument #2) For figure 1, you say "The differences between the red and blue bars represent McCain supporters, implying that the great majority of Tea Party independents were McCain voters and even half of the Tea Party Democrats were McCain voters." In the latest issue of PS, Arthur Lupia claims that 7% of Ohio's Bush voters in 2004 did not vote at all and 15% voted for Obama (and a 23.6% Republican defection rate nationwide). Having lived in both Indiana and Ohio, I am inclined to believe that the figures are probably similar in Indiana, though I would be curious to see the numbers. That suggests two things: 1) As far as I can tell from the text, your claim that the difference between the red and blue bars represents McCain-voting TP supporters rests on the demonstrably false assumption that anyone who didn't vote for Obama voted for McCain, and 2) The 2008 ANES that Lupia cites finds that 15% of Bush voters voted for Obama, which is far more than your survey found as reported in table 1, so either lots of Democrats voted for Bush in 2004 (which accounts for the extra defections), or you're getting underreporting of Obama voting in your survey. Given the drop in Obama's favorable numbers since 2008 that could cause respondents to mis-remember or mis-represent, you need that evidence from 2004 before I accept your claim that Lupia is wrong.

Argument #3) This is a creative way to get at the question of what really drives TP'ers, and a clever piece of graphic artistry. Your claim is that McCain voting is the key determinant of TP support, not the deficit or national direction. There are really two issues here. First: of the three factors, which has the biggest impact? Since you only include the McCain support with the other two, it obviously has the tallest lines, so visually, it looks like it matters the most (clever). What would the graph look like if you switched it around and put McCain by itself first and added the other two on to it? I don't know if this is the right way to read your graph, but the "height added" from adding McCain never exceeds the "height added" by the deficit factor except maybe for Strong Democrats. Does that mean the deficit factor is at least as important? Your comment about the "largest marginal factor" suggests I'm wrong, but I'd like to see the numbers here.

The bigger issue with your argument seems to be an obvious alternative. "Deficit" versus "Republicans" may not be competing factors, they may be interactive. In other words, Deficits are more likely to push Republicans to join the TP than they are to push Democrats. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense (I think) because presumably Democrats would have more faith that a Democratically-controlled Congress and WH will be able to solve problems (like the Deficit and National Direction) than Republicans would. I would be curious to see what your statistical results say, but your bar graph shows that voting for McCain has a constant marginal affect for all groups and the marginal affect for Deficit goes up as Party ID moves right. If this is the case, it would be evidence for the interactive hypothesis rather than your "McCain matters most" hypothesis.

On a related note, there's an even bigger alternative hypothesis that you don't mention here. It reads like you're saying "Look, (almost) all TP'ers are Republicans. Democrats with the same level of Deficit concern don't support the TP. That means that their Republican-ness is causing it, not the Deficit concern." Right? But you're ignoring the effect of Democratic Party ID and thinking solely about Republican Party ID. To me, it seems reasonable to say that in exactly the same way as Republicans are more susceptible to joining an anti-establishment when Democrats are in power, Democrats are less susceptible to joining. Why can't we say "People who fear the deficit support the TP, except that Democratic partisans feel a need to stick up for "their side," so they're holding back from supporting the TP?" Doesn't that offer an equally good explanation for all the evidence you present in Parts 2 & 3 (and isn't contradicted by Part 1)? In other words, yes, you're right that party matters (in both directions), because it adjusts the underlying propensity to join a TP--but you've never shown it creates the underlying propensity itself.

In short, you make some interesting assertions in all three arguments, but you need evidence to back up your claims, especially if you say you're going against the conventional wisdom (Bayesian priors and all that, right?) Two other things...

There's a different way to look at this which implies your findings are all a spurious correlation. There could be an antecedent variable lurking here which causes both "voting for McCain" and "joining a TP." Off the top of my head, I could imagine: religion, guns, foreign policy, a vague worry about creeping socialism, or a combination of all of these. You and I all met people in the areas around Bloomington who could easily have voted for McCain because they think he is a socialist, and his success makes them join a TP--and yet he might be more worried about his job than the national deficit. Your analysis claims that he's joining the TP as a partisan reflex, when it could be the partisanship AND the TP are both outcomes of the socialism fear. I could be convinced otherwise, but I need some evidence--or at least some discussion about why the antecedent alternative is probably wrong.

Returning to Bennett, clearly TP voters in Utah are not supporters of the "Washington Establishment." Assuming you're right, why are the Utah and Indiana TP so different? What about the TP supporters that got rid of Christ in Florida? Can we compare the cases to find what factors make different region's TPs different? What about Mollohan in West Virginia--superficially, at least, that looks like the Bennett case, but it wasn't a TP movement per se. Thoughts?

Anyway, thanks again for posting this. :)

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GARY WAGNER:

@Golem,

Elitist condescending arrogance and mockery, such as you so aptly demonstrate, is why Obama has remained below a 50% approval for nearly a year and why he will never recover. It is also why the democrats will lose control of congress this year.

In your own bit of congitive dissonance you seem to be in denial that it is congress that creates budgets and spends money - not presidents. Had the republicans not taken congress back in 1994, the clinton budget projections had us in $300 billion deficits per year by the end of his term. Clinton thanks God for republicans every day of his life.

Nancy Pelosi and the democrats have generated over $4 trillion in debt in just a little over 3 years. If they aren't stopped, they will add another $11 trillion in debt in the next 10 years. We are headed for another $2 trillion in debt this year alone.

Some day the democrats will thank the tea party for saving the country. Until then, the tea party will ignore the elitist liberal snobs who currently think they understand real people and what makes them tick.

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Marcello Mastroianni:

Academics have an unfortunate habit of squeezing everyone into clearly-defined categories that are a poor reflection of reality. Tea Partiers, apparently, must be either "grassroots" OR "Republican". And because the polling data suggests that Tea Partiers often support Republican candidates, the logical conclusion is that the Tea Party couldn't possibly be a grassroots phenomenon.

Well, baloney! There's no reason that a grassroots movement shouldn't favor one party over another, especially when that party often preaches (but only occasionally practices) the values that many Tea Partiers are expressing. And if incumbents have nothing to fear, then Charlie Crist, John McCain and Bob Bennett are shoo-ins for the nomination. Except they're not. Oops!

A parallel can be found in the anti-war movement that was prominent during the Bush administration. Were they grassroots? I'd say yes. Were they largely Democrats? Again, yes. Did they largely vanish after the election of Obama, even though the President and his Democratic colleagues who voted for the war are mostly continuing the policies of the Bush administration? You betcha!

Ultimately, this polling data doesn't tell us anything that we didn't already know. And Wolf, Downs, and Ortsey's interpretation of the data is a bit sloppy. But politics is like that sometimes.

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Wong:

As I read the attempted refutations of this analysis, I am reminded of the Jesuitical and mathematically complex attempts by priests to refute the Copernican notion of a heliocentric universe. All done in the name of ideological purity to prop up a necessary but nonetheless false narrative.

The recent CBS/NYT poll indicating that Tea Partiers approve of George W Bush by a whopping 57% (28% nationwide) would seem to support for the notion that the TP's are just a repackaged version of GOP right wing fringe elements who struggle to find legitimate outlets to express their anger at having lost an election.

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George Ehrhardt:

Oops. When I said: "You and I all met people in the areas around Bloomington who could easily have voted for McCain because they think he is a socialist, and his success makes them join a TP--and yet he might be more worried about his job than the national deficit." I meant that first "he" to be "Obama." The second "he" refers to the voter. Sorry, I guess I could have worded that better.

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Mike Wolf:

A few short answers to some of the above points follow. We won’t provide sufficient answers to everyone – after all we’ve been criticized because we should have known Tea Partiers were Republicans and then criticized by others for saying Tea Partiers are largely Republicans. So we can’t win with both extremes. But here are some clarifications:

1) We never disparage the Tea Party movement or minimize it. We show that 36% of registered Hoosiers identified with the Tea Party. How is that not significant? Party mobilization is no less important to voting behavior and electoral outcomes than a grassroots movement. The effects just occur among different people.

2) Political scientists do generalize and categorize – but we didn’t squeeze anyone into categories – the empirical evidence does that.

3) The Tea Party is a movement – but an internal Republican movement. Otherwise, how could it be a 2009-2010 grassroots movement when one of the primary explanations of its existence is a vote for McCain – something that happened long before the movement would have started? There is a sequence problem to these criticisms: these are McCain voters.

4) To the aspects of Tea Party effects elsewhere – Utah, upstate NY, and Florida. These are internal Republican battles. They actually help our argument. Utah was a Republican convention – not open to broad-based grassroots voters but inside baseball party elites. Charlie Crist also helps our point. Rubio’s done well with conservative Republicans in a primary – but those polls are Republican primary voters. Interestingly, when Crist went independent, his numbers among the whole Florida population shot up and he’s leading. A broad-based movement would help Rubio across-the-board but it doesn’t. Once Crist was free of the Republican contest the Tea Partiers did not drag him down. Upstate New York as well: it split the Republican vote between two wings and the Democrat won. Wouldn’t a broad-based Tea Party movement have led to broad Republican success in a historically Republican district? George mentions the DeMint and less establishment – we agree. It was a cue for the less establishment candidate we think, but you’re right that we couldn’t test that. Still, Indiana is a semi-closed state and this was a Republican primary. When we test Tea Party identifiers versus non-identifiers for the general election race, the Democrat is ahead with non-Tea Partiers because they’re Democrats – even though he’s down nearly 15 points when everyone is included.

5) To George’s other solid points. The Tea Party is likely a lot like the anti-War movement for Democrats in the mid 2000s. Indeed, Lieberman getting booted in his primary was an internal party rejection just like the Tea Partiers are doing in Florida and elsewhere. And George is right on with Democrats not manifesting their concerns in the same way because their party is in power. This is the Michigan Model and fits our explanation: party identification drives the views on the issues, evaluations, and behavior. Democrats didn’t view the deficit as problematically as Independents and Republicans (there were only five Democrats who mention it as most important). But we are right not to interacted deficit with Republicans. Our factor analysis shows that PartyID, Vote for McCain, Direction of Country and Tea Party ID are loaded on the same factor and the loadings are huge Party ID: .7983, National Direction.80, Vote 08: .8698. Deficit did not load with them even though it was significant. Because it didn’t load with the other factors, we put the deficit first in the bar charts so we could see that effect independent of the others. Frankly, we expected the distribution for deficit to crown at Independents or others, but were surprised to see it followed similar patterns. So it was not creative artistry with the graphs – it was due to trying to account for deficit as an independent influence. That is why it was alone and first because it didn’t load – we would have been hiding this fact had we not put it first.

6) Also for clarification on the numbers for George. The marginal effects we refer to were not calculated from the bars we show. They come from changes in predicted probabilities when each variable is taken from its minimum to maximum values holding everything else at its mean. This is common practice. We didn’t include the actual output in the post for space reasons. But here are the marginal effects of predicted probabilities from minimum to maximum on the variables: National Direction: .2842; Party ID .1778; Deficit .118; McCain Vote 2008 .2905. That is why we reported McCain vote had the largest marginal effect - not because how we constructed the bar charts and the order of the predicted probabilities. Still, the interactive effects of the probabilities in the bar charts back this up. It isn’t artistry; and even so the tallest bar chart would not be different no matter what the order. One could change around the order as you state and have the effect look different, but the bars are the combined probabilities as we made clear.

7) On the Lupia turnout/vote switch stuff. It is a great point. The one issue is presidential election versus midterm mobilization. We have a registered likely voter sample here. With the Tea Party mobilization, it is not surprising that the likely voters would be more heavily Republican and as a result those reporting they voted for Obama would be lower than what the actual vote was. The Tea Party has provided Republicans with mobilization – we do not dispute that and in fact say that will likely be the effect in the fall: turnout increased for Republicans rather than a choice between the Democrat and Republican. That is a real effect and significant. The sample is a product of voter mobilization just like behavior is. That’s the best hypothesis we have – but one that is tightly connected to the surge and decline theory of midterm voting. To clarify – our vote variable is strictly a vote for Obama versus McCain – dichotomous. But when we include those who do not recall their vote or didn’t vote – the variable remains significant.

8) The effects of party identification, vote for McCain, and the deficit are particularly strong. In an additional logit model we also included a variable of favorable view of the Tea Party. Even when we include favorability toward the Tea Party – which should really wipe out other effects since one would think favorability toward the Tea Party and identity with the Tea Party are closely related (they are). Nevertheless, party identification, vote for McCain, and the deficit remain statistically significant. Further, Tea Party identification, tea party favoritism, vote for McCain, and party identification load together – deficit does not load with them. So George is right – there is a common cause but it is not spurious if we follow standard Michigan model theory where the social-psychological influence of party identification drives views of politicians, issues, and behavior. It makes sense theoretically and sequentially: one gets their party identification first, votes for McCain second, is upset with the direction of the country, may not like deficit, and consequently identifies with the Tea Party. It also follows George’s logic – Democrats have their party identification first, voted for Obama, prefer the direction of the country (a majority like the direction), and do not identify with the Tea Party. Independents who don’t like the deficit are heavily likely to identify with the Tea Party – but they are also the ones who voted for McCain so that effect is wiped out.

9) It is not disparaging to say that the Tea Party is a vehicle to mobilize Republicans rather than their recent past where their president and congressional leaders were unpopular. I’m sure Democrats didn’t head into the 1982 midterm waiving a bloody shirt for Jimmy Carter either. The Tea Party is a key way for Republicans to mobilize for the 2010 election that is new and separate from the past, but it is not a broad-based movement. It isn’t surprising that the different wings of the party are competing. Bill Clinton was criticized by the left for his moderate positions in the 1992 primaries. Miller and Jennings (1986) wrote about this intra-party competition among national party delegates and the fact that they punish the wing of the party that lost the recent election – so the fact that the Tea Party is a very conservative factional response within the Republican Party doesn’t damage our argument.

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Marcello Mastroianni:

> we didn’t squeeze anyone into categories –
> the empirical evidence does that.

Of course ;-)

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GARY WAGNER:

@Mike Wolf:

"What explains this pattern of Tea Party identification that looks as if it may have begun on November 5, 2008 rather than after the stimulus bills or auto bailouts?"

Why are you ignoring the fact that the movement started long before the election of Obama? This movement was a major factor in the defeat of republicans in the 2006 election. It may not have had the clearly defined label as "the tea party movement" but this real grassroots movement has been alive longer than Obama has been on the national scene and years before he was elected as president. His election was a catalyst - not a starting point.

"We never disparage the Tea Party movement or minimize it."

Yes you do. Saying it is not a true grassroots movement is deisparaging. And this little bit of sarcasm shows you have no respect for the movement:

"So where were the pitchforks and torches against establishment Washington?".

And this little bit of political campaigning shows your political persuasion:

"a former senator and lobbyist who had homes in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. (but not Indiana)"

Those are words straight out of the DNC advertisements against Coats. Sure, they're true but completely irrelevant to your article other than to show your contempt for a republican.

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Mike Wolf:

We didn't disparage the movement, we situate it.

1) Whatever the genesis, we agree that the 2008 election catalyzed this into a major movement. The movement didn't take out Republican incumbents in primaries in 2006 even if it existed - it is entirely different now and its scale in the Republican Party is huge.

2) Pitchforks etc. The media coverage often spends a lot of time focusing on Nazi signs and Marxist signs and the narrative is that it is revolutionary - our findings suggest the voting behavior of TP identifiers is not. Further, we didn't give credence or include the caricature of the movement that comes from some liberal commentators have that this is just a bunch of racists upset at a black president. So rather than the pitchfork narrative that is out there, we instead show that these are very engaged voters who are driven and participating - and there are 36% percent of Hoosier voters who identify with it - hardly a band of revolutionaries or freaks that some opponents make them out to be. So we set off our empirical findings against the caricature of pitchforks. Why is that disparaging?

3) Coats as non-resident. The DNC started this, but this was a recurrent theme in media coverage (if you live in Indiana it ate up a whole week of coverage). If this was the year of the outsider as Scott Brown's success suggested, and the Tea Party was to kick out establishment Washington (as people have raised above with Bennett and the constant discussion of Tea Party vs. "establishment", then it is a very valid point. And it is interesting that Tea Partiers supported him more than any other candidate against this backdrop. This won't be an issue in the general election, so mentioning it isn't campaigning. If it were going to matter, it would have in the primary and that's the point.

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GARY WAGNER:

"The genesis of Tea Party identification does not result from a rejection of Obama by his own supporters; rather, it arises more from upset McCain supporters - hardly a broad-based grassroots movement."

From my persepective (and I live in Indiana, by the way) declaring this is not a grassroots movement is the same as the "astroturf" attacks from liberals. You included "broad-based". I don't think that is enough of a qualifier. In my mind, that statement questions the legitimacy of the movement and diminishes it. That's my take.

As far as most left leaning attempts to dissect the tea party movement goes, I'll admit that you didn't resort to calling it a bunch a radical redneck racists who can't stand having a black man in the white house.

I would appreciate seeing the poll you refer to in which you only find 8 democrats identifying with the tea party. Is this the poll to which you are referring? http://www.pollster.com/blogs/senate%20poll%20release%20042910.doc

If so, then that poll only appears to ask tea party questions about respondents who intended to vote in the Republican primary. Were these questions asked of all 1,250 likely voters or only the 407 likely Republican voters? Did this survey only identify 8 democrats because you only included republican primary voters?

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Mike Wolf:

The question was asked of the whole sample and like Figure 1 shows, about 32 Democrats out of 342 Democrats identify in the entire sample.

We meant broad-based as far as party identification. Again, 36 percent is big - but just overwhelmingly Republican.

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Mike Wolf:

By the way - our university affiliation is not Indiana Universit - it is Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne.

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