Tea Party's Hard Line on Spending Divides GOP

Feb 11, 2011

The divisions among House Republicans over how deeply to cut federal spending reflect fundamental differences within the GOP base. Roughly half of Republicans and Republican-leaners agree with the Tea Party movement, and they take a much harder line on cutting federal spending than do Republicans who disagree with the Tea Party or have no opinion of the movement.

In fact, across a wide range of issues -- including federal spending on entitlements, education, agriculture and energy -- the spending preferences of Republicans and GOP leaners who do not agree with the Tea Party are far more in sync with Democrats than with Republican supporters of the Tea Party. In each of these areas, both Democrats and non-Tea Party Republicans would rather see spending increased than decreased; by contrast, Tea Party Republicans favor spending cuts over spending increases.

Republican intra-party divisions are particularly sharp over funding for education, Social Security and environmental protection. A third (33%) of Republicans and GOP leaners who agree with the Tea Party favor decreasing federal education spending, compared with just 4% of non-Tea Party Republicans. Instead, 64% of non-Tea Party Republicans want increased education spending, as do 78% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Read the complete findings of Tea Party's Hard Line on Spending Divides GOP on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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