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The Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and the 2010 Congressional Elections: The Aftermath of the Election of Barack Obama


Direct correspondence to Charles S. Bullock III, Department of Political Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.



Sarah Palin and the Tea Party played active roles in endorsing candidates for the U.S. House in 2010; we explore whether they followed different strategies. Palin proved more careful in backing candidates while the decentralized Tea Party movement often became involved in hopeless causes.


We analyze the endorsements made by Palin and the Tea Party in contests involving House seats held by Democrats going into the 2010 elections.


We show that Palin and the Tea Party had different endorsement approaches.


Palin's endorsements seem to have been guided by more strategic considerations than those from the Tea Party. The Tea Party concentrated more on trying to defeat incumbents and especially incumbents who had supported the Obama legislative package with the stimulus bill being a lightning rod for Tea Partiers. Palin proved far more selective in making endorsements and concentrated more on backing challengers likely to unseat Democrats. Although she endorsed less than half as many races as the Tea Party, she backed almost as many winners.