Study: Tea Partiers pick Palin for president over potential 2012 rivals

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

A new study of the Tea Party movement released on Wednesday shows former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the leader among the conservative, grassroots activists when it comes to their 2012 choice for president.

Among the “229 Tea Party supporters” surveyed by the Sam Adams Alliance, Palin brought in 23 percent when up against 19 other candidates, according to the report. It is the first of three studies commissioned by the free-market non-profit group to analyze Tea Party activists before November’s midterm elections.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney followed with 9.2 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took in 8.7 percent and Newt Gingrich garnered 7.7 percent of Tea Party activists’ support.

Although activists tend to support GOP candidates for president, the report found that some — who largely identified as Republicans before they joined up as Tea Partiers — have dropped their party affiliation with the GOP as they became more involved in the movement.

Among new activists polled, 74 percent originally identified themselves as Republican, with 20 percent saying they are independents. But since claiming to join the movement, there’s been a near 30-point drop in affiliation among Tea Partiers with the Republican Party, according to the group, with many activists switching to independent, Tea Party or Libertarian party labels.

Anne Sorock, the study’s author, said in an interview that the study shows that the GOP “is not in touch with one of the most active segments” in politics today, as there is “a disconnect with the Tea Parties.”

That’s an interesting finding, considering how Democrats unveiled a strategy last week making the argument that the Republican Party platform and that of the Tea Party are one and the same.

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