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The Obama Trigger: Presidential Approval and Tea Party Membership


  • Direct correspondence to Angie Maxwell, University of Arkansas, Old Main 428, Fayetteville, AR 72701 <>.



This article utilizes national polling data to identify factors driving Tea Party membership.


First, in order to clearly define the Tea Party movement, the researchers will report Tea Party demographics drawn from the Blair-Rockefeller Poll, which includes a national sample of 3,406 respondents. Second, the researchers will create a logit model to predict Tea Party membership.


In addition to party identification and ideology, Tea Party membership (10.6 percent of the sample) is impacted both by fiscally conservative policy preferences and by presidential approval. To a lesser degree, age and a belief in biblical literalism are also significant indicators in the model.


The Tea Party is a distinct entity from the Republican Party and is triggered, not only by current economic attitudes, but, specifically, by opposition to President Obama.