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The Tea Party Movement's Influence On The U.S. Party Competition In A Rational Choice Perspective

2873 words - 11 pages

1. Introduction
The United States of America are a classical example of a political two-party system . (cp. McDonald/Samples, 2006: 18). The Republican party and the Democrat party ...

However, at the beginning of 2009, a new influential non-party player appeared in the political arena. The Tea Party Movement succeeded to considerably influence the 2010 elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate in the United States. Their main positions which can be found in their “Contract from America” (Tea Party Movement, 2010) played a major role in the election campaigns of both the Republican and the Democratic Party (...). The Tea Party advocates for a better control of the constitutional competences of Congress, for fewer environmental regulations that may have negative impact on the economy, for a balanced bugdet, for a single-rate tax system reform, for a smaller and more efficient administration as well as federal-level, state-level and local-level subsidiarity, for a reduction of federal government spending growth, for a more market-based health care system, for a reduction of the dependence on foreign energy sources, for more restrictive rules for the use of earmarks and for a repeal of all currently scheduled tax increases (ibid.). Their positions can be summed up as a strong stance against 'big government', especially Federal government.

Building on a spatial rational choice framework of party competition developed by Anthony Downs, I seek to analyze in this paper what the reasons are that enable the the Tea Party Movement to force the established parties, foremost the Republican party, to adopt many of their positions in their election campaigns. In line with this, the central research question of this paper is: why is the Tea Party movement able to force the Republican party to adopt its positions on 'big government'? The corresponding hypothesis states that the Republicans anticipate the potential threat of the Tea Party becoming an actual party and consequently a new competitor on the right political wing.

In section 2, the theoretical and methodological framework to be used in this analysis will be presented. The institutional setting and its specifics – mainly the electoral systems for Congress and the President - that are important for the cause of this paper will be described in section 3. In section 4, the analysis of the central research question will be conducted using the theoretical framework. Eventually, an answer to it will be provided in the same section. The results of the analysis will be summed up and a final conclusion will be drawn in the last section, section 5.

2. Theory and Methodological Framework
The theoretical and methodological framework to be used in this analysis is based on a rational-choice microeconomic theory by Harold Hotelling (1929). In his 'ice cream dealers' model, he assumed a beach strip with fixed boundaries, evenly populated with guests. At that beach, two ice cream dealers...

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