(Kansas City) – A new report by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) finds that Tennessee ranks fourth overall in Tea Party membership.
The special report, entitled The Status of the Tea Party: Membership, Support and Sympathy by the Numbers is an exhaustive, year-long, non-partisan, data-driven look at the state of the Tea Party as it nears the movement’s fifth anniversary next month.
The overall ranking of fourth for Tennessee is based on a combination of metrics: the number of Tea Party members in the state, membership as a percentage of the state population, and the number of active local affiliated Tea Party groups. Tennessee was tenth in the total number of Tea Party members in the state, with 13,775 members. As a percentage of the state’s population, Tea Party membership in the state came in sixth. The 26 active local affiliated Tea Party groups in Tennessee was fifteenth in the country. The state is also the home base of one of the national factions, Tea Party Nation.
Data in the report proves that despite recent defeats, the Tea Party movement is far from dead. "At its core, this report is a wakeup call for everyone who cares about human rights. The Tea Party threat to human rights remains persistent on a multitude of fronts," said IREHR president Leonard Zeskind.
Among the other significant findings in the report:
- Despite sagging public sympathy post-shutdown, core membership in the national Tea Party factions remains high, at over half a million people. Last year, membership growth slowed to roughly four percent. Membership is geographically concentrated in the South, with than 42% of overall membership in the region.
- The level of Tea Party supporters also rose, particularly on social media. The combined total for national Tea Party Facebook likes was 7,683,327, and Twitter followers totaled 382,240.
- Recalcitrance regarding the shutdown of the federal government and other issues caused general sympathy for the Tea Party to decline at the end of 2013, to 18% to 30% of the American public.
- Even has membership has grown, the ratio of men to women in the Tea Party movement remains remarkably consistent, with roughly two-thirds of the membership identified as men.
The rush to pronounce the Tea Party dead has caused nearly as many problems as the myth that the movement is "AstroTurf"–fake grassroots. “Tea Partiers are more than minions for millionaires, or the sum of ballots cast on Election Day,” according to the report’s author, Devin Burghart. “They are not illusions created by public relations magicians. Over the last five years, real people have been involved in real activities aimed at impacting politics, culture, and civil society in negative ways,” he added.
The report pinpoints national trends in sympathy and support for the Tea Party, analyzes the Tea Party organizations’ core membership numbers, and maps the geography of the movement.
“It is a complex and contradictory situation,” said Burghart. “But we now know that two different trends have emerged: the core of the movement has hardened and grown, even as sympathy for the movement has leveled off and opposition has increased. The middle ground is shrinking further every day.”
The full report, The Status of the Tea Party: Membership, Support and Sympathy by the Numbers, is available online here.