Michelle Cardwell, an Arizona native & a master’s degree student at the London School of Economics, surveyed Arizona Tea Party members and wrote a report of her findings in August of this year and she has given me permission to inform our readers about her results. The survey took place between April 13 and June 14 of 2010, with 1093 respondents (from all over the state) answering several questions. Here are excerpts from her report and the full conclusions.
The first question inquired as to “when the respondent had first learned about the Tea Party. Most respondents had been aware of the movement for some time; 74.6% of respondents had learned about it over a year ago and another 22.0% had heard of it within the last year.”
The second question focused upon “how respondents first learned about the Tea Party movement.” The answers were radio (43.2%), TV (37.4%), and online news sources (23.3%).
“In question three respondents were asked “whether they supported, were against or had no preference for a stated position. The results of this question showed very strong agreement among respondents over six issues. These positions centered on small government, limited government expenditures, universal health care, lowering taxes, cap and trade tax on carbon emissions and easing immigration restrictions.”
Question four then sought “to establish which of these political issues from question three ranked the most important to Tea Party members.” The top three issues were government size (76.0%), fiscal restraint (56.9%), and immigration (54.6%).
Question five inquired “whether there were issues that individuals involved in the Arizona Tea Party movement felt should not be addressed by the movement. The majority (73.5%) felt that there were not any issues that the movement should avoid.”
Question six was about the level of government the Tea Party should focus on, with 67.7 % picking the federal government.
Question seven inquired about “more general, abstract themes of political involvement.” For example respondents were asked to rate statements such as “The existing political parties fail to adequately represent the American public”, with results of 60.5% strongly agreeing, and 28.6% agreeing.
Question eight asked about the internet to keep members involved, with 73.8% saying it was very important. Question nine asked about the “importance of public rallies & protests”, with 72.9% finding them very important.
Question ten inquired about political involvement, with 99.3 % being registered to vote, 98.8% saying that they had voted before, and 80.5% had contacted their representatives in the past.
“Question eleven asked respondents what the Tea Party should do in the future. Most respondents (57.7%) felt that in the future the Tea Party should be an independent association without candidates for election. The next most popular option was integrating with the Republican Party (18.1%), and the least popular option was integrating with the Democratic Party (0.1%).”
Conclusions of this survey:
The results of this survey gave a rich image of the emerging Arizona Tea Party
movement. The respondents showed that individuals involved in the Arizona Tea Party movement have been aware of it since the early days of the movement. These individuals mostly earned about the movement through traditional media sources, although after becoming involved, most respondents found the internet to be an important means of staying informed. Individuals involved in the movement showed strong agreement over political issues, especially those ranked as top three most important issues by respondents: small government, fiscal restraint and immigration. A majority of respondents felt the federal government deserved most of the Tea Party’s attention and that the Tea Party should not avoid any political issues.
Respondents strongly identified with the movement; 81.1% described themselves as passionate about the movement and 86.5% felt that the existing political parties could not represent them as well politically as the Tea Party movement. Although a majority agreed that politicians fail to take public opinion into account, respondents still felt strongly about the impact of their political participation, as 71.1% disagreed with the idea that they could do little to influence political outcomes. Respondents also showed strong political involvement both before and after joining the Tea Party movement. Almost all were registered to vote and almost all had voted prior to becoming involved. Strong majorities of respondents had also contacted their representatives in the past and donated money to campaigns. The areas that saw the greatest rise in political involvement among respondents after joining the movement were attending protests and rallies, as well as volunteering for campaigns. In total, these findings illustrate the Arizona Tea Party to be a cohesive and dedicated movement. While still too early to analyze their overall successes to date, the November 2010 elections will no doubt illustrate the impact of their growing influence in Arizona politics.
Demographics of the respondents: 97.8% currently registered to vote (74.2% Republican, 23.8% Independent, 2% Democrat); 55.5% male, 43.6 % female; 18.6% aged between 30 – 49 years, 44% aged between 50-64, 32.3% aged over 65 years. As for race/ethnicity, the question about this was “removed from the data set due to a low response rate, as well as out of respect for respondents whose comments indicated discomfort with the question.” And there was apparently no question about religious membership, if any.
Michelle is an Arizona native from Peoria, who graduated from the ASU West with a BS in Political Science and a BA in American Studies. She will graduate in December from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a Masters of Science in Public Policy and Administration.
For more information about her survey and seven page report, contact Michelle at michelle.cardwell at gmail.com
Readers: any comments on this survey? Does this sound like members of the Tucson Tea Party?