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ABSTRACT. The Tea Party has had a marked impact on American politics since emerging after the election of Barack Obama as president in 2009. The role of the Tea Party in influencing the direction of the Republican Party, however, has been hotly debated. For the first time, the American National Election Studies (ANES) in its 2012 dataset included variables regarding support for the Tea Party movement. This study analyzes the 2012 ANES data to compare the demographics and attitudes of Tea Party supporters to Republicans who did not support the Tea Party. Demographically, Tea Party supporters are whiter, older, more male, more religious, and more Southern than Republicans who did not identify themselves as members of the movement. Not only are Tea Party supporters demographically different from Non-Tea Party Republicans, but there are significant ideological and policy preference differences between the two groups as well. On virtually every issue analyzed, the issue positions of Tea Party supporters are more conservative, sometime considerably so, than Non-Tea Party Republicans. These demographic and ideological disparities have enormous implications for the future of the Republican Party. pp. 13–31

Keywords: Tea Party; Republican Party; Barack Obama; ideological polarization; demographics; ideology

How to cite: Fisher, Patrick (2015), “The Tea Party and the Demographic and Ideological Gaps within the Republican Party,” Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 7(2): 13–31.

Received 8 December 2014 • Received in revised form 19 February 2015
Accepted 1 April 2015 • Available online 1 August 2015

PATRICK FISHER
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Seton Hall University

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