Report: Tea Party More Christian Right Than Libertarian

Americans who identify with the Tea Party are more likely to identify with the Christian Right than to hold views consistent with a libertarian philosophy, according to a new report by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Of the 10 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as part of the Tea Party, about half, 52 percent, also identified with the Christian Right. Christian Right identifiers comprised 18 percent of the sample.

PRRI constructed a libertarian-communalist scale based upon nine questions dealing with national security and international intervention, economic policy, and personal liberty (such as gun control, access to pornography and marijuana legalization). Using this scale, the report found that seven percent of the sample was consistently libertarian and 15 percent leaned libertarian.

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The report uses the libertarian scale to identify libertarians because those who self-identify as libertarian were not consistently libertarian in their views.

Of the seven percent who were classified as consistently libertarian, 39 percent identified with the Tea Party. Twenty-six percent of those who identified with the Tea Party were classified as libertarian. And, 22 percent of libertarians identified with the Christian Right.

Together, these data suggest the Tea Party has more ties to the Christian Right than libertarianism, but there is also a large portion of the Tea Party that neither identifies with the Christian Right nor holds consistent libertarian views.

A plurality, 45 percent, of libertarians are Republican. Half of them say they are independent (35 percent) or belong to a third party (15 percent). Only five percent of libertarians identify with the Democratic Party.

The report was based upon a survey of 2,317 adults conducted between Sept. 21 and Oct. 3. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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