This thesis will examine and explain the background and structure of the Tea Party Movement and discuss whether the Tea Party Movement is a party or a movement. Does it constitute a superficial change or has there, as some claim, been a more permanent change in the American society and electorate in favor this movement’s attitudes and goals? The thesis will also look more closely at its performance in the 2010 mid-term elections as well as afterwards through 2011. Has the Tea Party Movement lived up to its promises and visions, or has the political reality of Washington turned out to be too big an obstacle for making a tangible difference in American politics? These questions are both interesting and important to investigate more closely.
Among the conclusions of this thesis are that the Tea Party Movement does not fulfill the criteria for being a party. As such, it does fulfill the criteria for being a social movement. However, the Tea Party Movement of today is predominantly an Astroturf movement that also is an affiliate right-wing branch of the Republican Party. Nor is there an independent group of “Tea Party-politicians” in the House of Representatives after the 2010 mid-term elections. However the Tea Party Movement does have an impact in Congress in that the election of a number of conservative Tea Party Movement-endorsed candidates ensures that the Republican political agenda does not move towards the center of American politics, but rather towards the right-wing conservative side of the Republican political spectrum. An interesting finding of the thesis is that the “new” mass media has been vital to the Tea Party Movement’s formation and subsequent growth.