The data in this report was derived from a collection of online directories on the major national Tea Party faction websites: Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots, 1776 Tea Party (also known as TeaParty.org), FreedomWorks Tea Party, and Patriot Action Network (formerly known as ResistNet). The data for the sixth national Tea Party formation mentioned in this report, the Tea Party Express, was drawn from filings with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Data for TheTeaParty.net was not available.
The data provides a partial picture of the Tea Party activist base. It is important to note that there may be many more individuals who are not listed in these social networking directories – who either chose not to register, who have registered on some other site (such as one or more of the many local Tea Party sites), or who do not have sufficient computer skills.
One important note regarding the Tea Party Patriots data in the 2013 and 2014 Tea Party Membership data. Member information from those registered on TeaPartyPatriots.org was gathered, as it had been in previous years. However, in 2013 an overwhelming number of the members on TeaPartyPatriots.org were labeled “deleted,” “never active” or no longer displayed location information in the profile section of the website. This could be the result changes to the membership database, or the limitations of the WordPress system the Tea Party Patriots switched to in early November 2011.
As a result the available member data for TeaPartyPatriots.org is limited in 2014, as it was in 2013. Thankfully, the Tea Party Patriots also maintain a very active Ning social networking site. While there is not a 1-to-1 crossover between TeaPartyPatriots.org and TeaPartyPatriots.ning.com, an examination of data of the two for previous years showed considerable overlap. The 2013 Tea Party Patriots member data in this report relies on the data from TeaPartyPatriots.ning.com. Tea Party Patriots membership numbers from 2010-2012 come from TeaPartyPatriots.org. As a result, year-to-year comparisons and conclusions about membership activity are somewhat limited for the group.
Tea Party Membership Data
There are several levels of Tea Party membership data contained in this report. The most recent national faction membership totals come from June 2014.
Additional Tea Party membership data used in this report was collected during the periods from June 1 to June 10, 2013, June 1 to June 15, 2012, June 1 to June 12, 2011, and May 1 to June 1, 2010. Using software generously provided by Sequentum, an automated process allowed for the copying and compiling of the website membership data into a local SQL database.
Records retrieved from all five Tea Party faction sources generally included: name, city, state, country, and gender. Some records were incomplete – missing various parts of city, state, country, gender, etc. Incomplete records were included in the overall numbers, but not included in areas where data was missing.
We also downloaded the Committee Master File, Candidate Master File, Contributions to Candidates, Transactions from One Committee to Another, Contributions from Individuals, Adds, Changes, and Deletes data files from the FEC.gov on September 21, 2013. The most recent contributor records available from the FEC for the Our Country Deserves Better PAC – TeaPartyExpress.com, are from the June 30, 2013 filing. A query was written to extract those contributors from the local database of downloaded FEC data, then the extracted data was imported into the Tea Party 2013 membership database.
From the initial captured material, we worked with the data to eliminate duplicates and extraneous data. We also normalized the data, making sure that column names were the same, and that state and abbreviations were consistent. We then imported that data into a main SQL database.
Once we had a completed Tea Party membership data set, we then geo-coded the set using the city and state information. That information was later used to map the location of membership location using Tableau Public.
After the importation process we ran specific queries to work specifically with Tea Party member data and to extract the information we needed. Those queries included: Tea Party Membership by Region and Subregion, Tea Party Members by State, Tea Party Members by City, Tea Party Members by Faction, and Tea Party Membership Totals by City as a percentage of the City population.
Additional Data Sources
In addition to the Tea Party data, we relied on several other data sources in this report. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau helped allowed the matching of locations to specific counties.
Additionally, this report also relied on data from the 2013 Rural-Urban Continuum Codes, a classification scheme that distinguishes metropolitan counties by the degree of urbanization and adjacency to a metro area.
The official Office of Management and Budget (OMB) metro and nonmetro categories have been subdivided into three metro and six nonmetro categories. Each county in the U.S. is assigned one of the nine codes. This scheme breaks county data into finer residential groups, beyond metro and nonmetro, allowing for analysis of trends in nonmetro areas that are related to population density and metro influence.
The data is compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. It is available online at http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/rural-urban-continuum-codes.aspx.