Skip to main content

Profiling the Tea Party and Its Impact on the GOP

In the wake of a crisis that led to a government shutdown and near debt default, Bill Galston examines the motivation of the Tea Party and uses polling data to show who identifies as a Tea Partier. In his latest Wall Street Journal column, “The Tea Party and the GOP Crackup,” Galston notes that Tea Party members come from backgrounds that may surprise many, yet they still pose an existential threat to the modern Republican Party.

Below are excerpts from Galston’s column.

 The tea party is Jacksonian America, aroused, angry and above all fearful, in full revolt against a new elite—backed by the new American demography—that threatens its interests and scorns its values.


 According to two benchmark surveys by the New York Times and the Public Religion Research Institute, tea-party supporters espouse an ensemble of conservative beliefs with special intensity. Fifty-eight percent think that minorities get too much attention from government, and 65% view immigrants as a burden on the country. Most of the respondents see President Obama as someone who doesn’t understand them and doesn’t share their values. In their eyes, he’s an extreme liberal whose policies consistently favor the poor. In fact, 92% believe that he is moving the country toward socialism.


 Many tea-party supporters are small businessmen who see taxes and regulations as direct threats to their livelihood. Unlike establishment Republicans who see potential gains from government programs such as infrastructure funding, these tea partiers regard most government spending as a deadweight loss…

 It’s no coincidence that the strengthening influence of the tea party is driving a wedge between corporate America and the Republican Party…

Click through to read Bill Galston’s complete Wall Street Journal column, “The Tea Party and the GOP Crackup.”


Get daily updates from Brookings