A Tea Party Online: A Content Analysis of Local, Regional, and State Tea Party Websites

Virgil Ian Stanford 1 *

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Abstract

Since 2009, the Tea Party has played a prominent role in American politics, influencing both election outcomes and policymaking. Scholars and political pundits often argue about whether the movement constitutes an authentic economic populist movement within American conservatism or simply is a rebranding of classic conservative politics in the age of President Obama. Much can be discerned about the true nature of an organization by examining its public communications, particularly its online communications. This study analyzes the content of a stratified random sample of 50 local, regional, and state Tea Party websites to assess the true ideology of the political movement and the degree to which that ideology is consistent across the local nodes of this national political movement. The study finds that while economic issues are an important unifying principle among local Tea Party groups, that traditional conservative political causes such as opposition to President Obama, protecting Christian values, and cracking down on illegal immigrants also play a prominent role in Tea Party communications. Additionally, there is little cohesion that exists between the messaging of the local organizations due to the lack of centralized message control in the national Tea Party.

Keywords

Tea Party American politics political communication websites content analysis

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp. 1-20

Published Online: 25 Jul 2014

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