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UW Survey: Wyoming Supports the Tea Party Movement

March 18, 2015

A University of Wyoming survey found that nearly 4 in 10 Wyomingites agreed with the tea party movement, just under one-third disagreed, while another third either had not heard of the tea party or had no opinion about it.

“By any measure Wyoming is one of the most conservative states in America and, thus, one might expect that the tea party would fare well in the Equality State. It does,” says Oliver Walter, emeritus professor of political science at UW. “In terms of political opinions, the differences between tea party supporters and non-supporters were stark.”

The UW statewide election survey found that in Wyoming, where about 6 in 10 registered voters are Republicans, almost 9 out of 10 of those who expressed sympathy with the tea party were Republicans. Democrats comprise less than 1 percent of the tea party supporters, while those registered as independents make up about 10 percent.

Almost 90 percent of the tea party sympathizers rated President Obama’s job approval as poor, compared to about 24 percent of those in disagreement. Nearly 60 percent of the tea party group perceived that the nation’s economy was getting worse, compared to 16 percent of the non-tea party advocates.  

One of the policies that sparked the tea party movement was the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Ninety-six percent of those who agreed with the tea party indicated they disapproved of Obamacare, compared to 28 percent of the tea party’s non-sympathizers.  

When asked whether they approved or disapproved of Medicaid expansion, more than two-thirds of the tea party supporters disapproved, compared to only 10 percent of those opposed to the tea party.

Even though Republican registrants compose the vast majority of tea party supporters, not all Republicans support the tea party. Fifty-two percent are supporters, 18 percent oppose, and the remainder of Republican registrants either had no opinion or were not acquainted with the tea party philosophy.

More than two-thirds of the tea party supporters were opposed to gay marriage. Less than 1 in 5 of the non-tea party supporters were opposed.

“Given the strength of support for the tea party philosophy in Wyoming, it is hardly surprising that Medicaid expansion found little support in the Wyoming Legislature and that the anti-discrimination bill meant to protect gay and transgender people met with defeat,” Walter says.

Born in the first years of President Obama’s administration, the tea party has played a significant role in American politics, he says.

“It is generally considered to represent the most conservative force in American politics,” Walter says. “Nationally, the Gallup organization found that roughly 1 in 4 Americans supported the tea party, while just under one-third opposed it.”

The statewide telephone survey of 768 Wyoming residents was conducted in October by UW’s Survey Research Center and was sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Wyoming Public Radio and the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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