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Most research has examined the influence of the Tea Party as a social movement or loose organization, but less is known about its influence within legislative party politics, especially at the state level. In this paper, we argue that in this context the Tea Party is primarily an intraparty faction that has caused significant divisions inside the Republican Party. Using an original dataset of legislators across 13 states for the years 2010 to 2013, we examine legislator and district-level characteristics that predict state legislators’ affiliation with the Tea Party. Our results reveal that in some respects legislators affiliated with the Tea Party are a far-right wing of the Republican Party. However, by other measures that capture anti-establishment political sentiment, Tea Party affiliated legislators comprise a factional group attempting to transform the Party in ways that go beyond ideology. These findings have important implications for the future prospects of the GOP.

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Rouse, S.M.; Hunt, C. and Essel, K. "Growing Tea With Subnational Roots: Tea Party Affiliation, Factionalism, and GOP Politics in State Legislatures", American Politics Research, 50(2), pp. 242-254. Copyright © 2022, The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.