political strands are interwoven with powerful cultural motifs drawn from history and atheatrical use of images, language and stories.
In exploring the TPM, we set out to determine if general public support for themovement represents a
political and cultural phenomenon or whether it is simplyrealignment within the Republican Party. Specifically, what are the political and culturaldispositions of Tea Party supporters?
Our study included two telephone polls of registered voters in North Carolina andTennessee and a set of interviews and observations at a TPM rally in Washington, NorthCarolina. The first poll was conducted May 30-June 3, 2010, and had a total of 4,494respondents (2,378 in Tennessee and 2,116 in North Carolina). In our poll, 46% of respondents felt favorably toward the TPM, which was slightly higher than the nationalaverage at the time, but consistent with what one might expect from residents of thistraditionally conservative region. The second poll, conducted between September 29 andOctober 3, 2010 collected information on 692 of the original respondents to determinehow their views had changed. At the TPM rally we conducted short interviews with tenparticipants, and took photographs and field notes related to the various forms of culturalexpression (signs, handouts, costumes).
We discovered four primary cultural dispositions among those who feelpositively toward the TPM: authoritarianism, ontological insecurity, libertarianism andnativism.
Authoritarianism: this dimension captures beliefs that obedience by children ismore important than creativity (Stenner 2005), and that deference to authority is animportant value. For example, 81 % of TPM supporters agree that it is moreimportant that a child obeys his parents, as opposed to being responsible for his ownactions; in contrast only 65 % of non-TPM supporters agree with this position.
Libertarianism: this dimension captures beliefs that there should not beregulations or limitations on expressions such as clothing, television shows, and