Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Prof. John Griffin


The Tea Party movement is the most recent example of a faction rising from within an American political party. It rose unexpectedly, and it is hard to predict where it will end. It is important to get inside the heads of incumbent Congressmen to see how they deal with events like the rise of a faction within a two party system. This study analyzes roll call voting ideology scores of both Democrat and Republican incumbents to see just how the presence of the Tea Party caused a change from the 111th Congress to the 112th Congress. I find that the presence of the Tea Party seems to have a positive influence on roll call voting ideology, effectively pushing the parties further apart on the traditional liberal-conservative spectrum of ideology. Due to low sample sizes, this unfortunately cannot be said with statistical certainty. It is clear by the end that the Tea Party, as a faction attempting to change the status quo, further separated the two parties. This was due to the Republican Party’s need to assume the movement to ensure they remained Republicans. In a sort of reactionary force, the Democratic Party has been able to become more liberal in the face of extreme opponents and still retain the median voter all Representatives seek.