How the Tea Party Captured the GOP: Insurgent Factions in American Politics

Rachel M. Blum (Author)


The rise of the Tea Party redefined both the Republican Party and how we think about intraparty conflict. What initially appeared to be an anti-Obama protest movement of fiscal conservatives matured into a faction that sought to increase its influence in the Republican Party by any means necessary. Tea Partiers captured the party's organizational machinery and used it to replace established politicians with Tea Party-style Republicans, eventually laying the groundwork for the nomination and election of a candidate like Donald Trump.

In How the Tea Party Captured the GOP, Rachel Marie Blum approaches the Tea Party from the angle of party politics, explaining the Tea Party's insurgent strategies as those of a party faction. Blum offers a novel theory of factions as miniature parties within parties, discussing how fringe groups can use factions to increase their political influence in the US two-party system. In this richly researched book, the author uncovers how the electoral losses of 2008 sparked disgruntled Republicans to form the Tea Party faction, and the strategies the Tea Party used to wage a systematic takeover of the Republican Party. This book not only illuminates how the Tea Party achieved its influence, but also provides a framework for identifying other factional insurgencies.

Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
October 14, 2020

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About the Author

Rachel Marie Blum is assistant professor of political science at Miami University of Ohio.


"Blum documents the history of the Tea Party with a diversity of evidence and methodological virtuosity. She argues that the Tea Party's presence within the Republican Party is, essentially, a 'party within a party, ' a new way of thinking about 'intraparty mobilization' as a strategy undertaken by movements. How the Tea Party Captured the GOP enjoys the properties of a must-read work for those who care about the future of the Republican Party--indeed, for those who care about the future of the country."--Christopher Sebastian Parker, University of Washington
"For all the talk of polarization, we know less than we should about the pressures pushing parties away from the median, which makes this book particularly welcome. As Blum traces the relation between the Tea Party and the Republican Party that the insurgency sought, with great success, to push rightwards, she brings impressive evidence to bear, including long-form interviews with Tea Party activists, network analysis, and use of text-as-data."--Daniel Schlozman, Johns Hopkins University