The Tea Party has been identified by most mass media sources as a separate but related element of the Republican Party. This study adds to a new body of literature on the Tea Party by using polarization literature and survey data to (a) separate Tea Party Republicans (TPR), Tea Party Non-Republicans (TPNR), and Non–Tea Party Republicans; (b) identify the role of Tea Party affiliation (or lack thereof) on political interest and media use; and (c) assess the role of media use by these three groups on political interest and voting. This study found that partisan media plays an important role for all three groups and it especially has the strongest role for those who do not align themselves with the Republican Party. Specifically, both TPR and TPNR were more likely to be politically interested and rely on partisan media than Republicans who are not affiliated with the Tea Party.
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