will the tea party still be going when the next republican president shows up?
I’ve been having a discussion with Sean over the meaning of my latest paper, which shows that Democrats stopped showing up at antiwar rallies after Obama’s inauguration. Sean wrote: “ i am trying to unpack the assumptions that go into the idea of being “anti-bush” which are separate from being against his policies. of course, it could (should) go beyond the war: economy, social issues, budget priorities, tax policies, etc. but i think its reasonable to assume that his role in the war took center stage in the widespread anti-bushness of democrats.”
Here is what I wrote in response. I suggest at the end that if partisanship is a big factor in movement politics, you should see a huge GOP drop off at Tea Party demonstrations:
… Let’s say someone is extremely partisan, then they approve/vote for the person/party and not the policies. A simple example: many important elements of the Obama HCR were done in Massachussetts first by Romney, yet Romney criticized these very policies. It’s pretty obvious that he’s showing a preference for the people associated with the policies, not the policy itself.
In contrast, the issue driven person votes only for policies and not people or parties. The “peaceniks” you describe in the first comment fit this bill. As long as there is any presence at all in Iraq, they’ll be marching in the street, no matter who is the president.
Of course, in real life, there are few people at either extreme point of the spectrum. Probably the best description is that people make judgments on the bundle of people and policies. If your party is in power, you probably guess that they are pushing policies you like, or are doing the best they can with policies you don’t like. If it’s the opposite, you asssume that these policies just represent what’s so horrible about the other party.
From this perspective, you can then imagine antiwar crowds as being a mix of people: people for whom the war is just the worst aspect of an incompetent Republican presidency and those who are just anti-war in general. So when a democrat gets in, the partisans give him the benefit of the doubt, while the policy protesters stick to protest. So when the other party is in power, protest is an opportunity for an alliance between these two crowds and the opportunity makes no sense when there is a new government. And the regressions show bundling: self-identified democrats tend to give Obama a higher evaluation in his handling of the war than non-democrats. Democrats are more likely to say specific anti-Bush things and non-democrats are more likely to mentions their radical ideological perspective.
The real test of the hypothesis is if you see a similar shift in the Tea Party when the next GOP president comes in. Right now, I’d bet that you get a high proportion of GOPers at Tea Party events. If I am right, that should drop when a GOP president comes in and all you’ll be left with is anti-tax extremists and third party populists. If I am wrong, they will still rally in large numbers and insist that the new GOP president repeal HCR.
Anyone want to take a bet?
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