The tea party movement and the geography of collective action

Wendy K.Tam Cho, James G. Gimpel, Daron R. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the geography of the Tea Party movement by drawing upon a unique data source that harvested thousands of events from the and Tea Party Patriots websites during the latter half of 2010. The spatial distribution of events strongly suggests that Tea Party activism was borne out of economic grievance, as it corresponds quite closely to the incidence of home foreclosures. The findings more generally reinforce the impression that Tea Party activists varied in the extent of their broader political vision and strategic acumen. On the one hand, many gathered together to express dissent and make their opposition identity known wherever they happened to live. But some did unite with like-minded groups to direct their activity toward defeating incumbents, capturing open seats, and electing their own candidates, possibly altering the outcome in a number of elections, primary and general. A geographic perspective on movement activism reveals that while not remarkably strategic with respect to the 2010 elections, Tea Party protest was not purely expressive either.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-133
Number of pages29
JournalQuarterly Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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