Values and the Drop in support for the Tea Party

Did Values Pull Tea Party Apart ?

Back in 2010 Pat Dade at Cultural Dynamics analysed a large US voters survey by MyType which studied the Tea Party.  The MyType report identified two different wings of the Tea Party, which it described as the  Religious Conservative Supporters and Libertarian Supporters.

The MyType survey also included questions used by Schwartz and other researchers and from those, Dade was able to construct a detailed values profile of the two ‘wings’.  In many cases they had opposing or antagonistic values.  He predicted that by 2012 the Tea Party would be in big trouble, and now it’s reported that Tea Party support (likely voters registered as members) has slumped to just 8%, down from 24%.

Here are some extracts from Dade’s article ‘Anyone Fancy a Spot of Tiffin? The inside story of the American Tea Party’.  You can find it, and the link to the MyType report, here.

The … ‘Religious Conservative Supporters and Libertarian Supporters …are largely very different. For organizers and supporters of the movement, this means some real issues in the next couple of years, if they are to leverage the discontent into a political force’.

‘We predict this will occur in Washington very soon and have a real impact on the support for the Tea Party. This is based on the tensions among the voter base that essentially leads to the conclusion that, if one wing wins, the other loses. Given the differing values of the wings, the psychological contract implied in the vote will be seen to be “broken”. Continued support will become very problematic for many’.

… … ‘Whatever happens, it is unlikely that the Tea Party movement will be able to speak with a united voice by 2012.’

Dade showed that the Religious Conservative supporters and the Libertarians have very different values.  They are united on their rejection of fairness and universalism – something that many other Americans score highly on. (Indeed, a recent survey in the US found that the Pioneers, the Maslow Group (MG) scoring highest on Universalism, is now the largest single MG in the US, and the Prospectors now rank second rather than first as they did some years ago, while the Settlers have dwindled to form a smaller group than eg in the UK).

In values terms Dade found that the Tea Party comprised a wing of Prospectors,  ‘angry at the failure of the dream. They thought they would have power over their own lives and the lives of others – instead they see others having the power to control their lives’, and another wing of Settlers, who are scared rather than angry: ‘scared for their future – the future of their country, and their children and grandchildren’, and wanting to blame “others” who are not-like-them.

Both groups included many ‘well educated and well heeled white, mostly former Republican mainstream voters’ but they were divided on values.

The Libertarians (Prospectors) scored highly on power, achievement, pleasure and self-direction, whereas the Religious Conservatives scored highly on benevolence, tradition, propriety and security.  What united them was narrow: a rejection of universalism.

So — did values do for the Tea Party once the prospect of a right wing Presidency evaporated ?  Have a look at the detail in Pat Dade’s article and decide for yourself.

(British readers may note that the differences between core supporters of the UK Coalition Parties the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are just as large, although different).

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