The Tea Party movement in South Carolina is credited with providing the energy and enthusiasm to thrust four freshmen GOP congressman into office in 2010. Political observers say that energy and enthusiasm continued into 2012 as a record 602,000 voters cast ballots in the January 21 South Carolina Republican presidential primary won by Newt Gingrich.
Now that Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee, will the Tea Party energy wane? Winthrop University Political Science professor Dr. Scott Huffmon says, since Romney was not the first choice of many South Carolina GOP voters, it will be interesting to see what the turnout will be like in November. “I think we are going to see something interesting; whether or not the Tea party enthusiasm is more for getting rid of Obama or whether it was more for promoting a particular (Republican) candidate.”
Huffmon says the voter turnout on the Republican side will tell if the disdain for the Obama Administration outweighs the perceived lack of enthusiasm for Romney candidacy. “If the numbers really, really show high turnout then it was definitely anti-Obama. if the turnout is just not what people expected, then I think we can interpret that as the Tea Party being disappointed with their choice (Obama or Romney). “
It is interesting to note that in the most recent Winthrop Poll directed by Huffmon, over 50 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of the Tea Party movement. However, more than 80 percent of them don’t consider themselves members of the movement.