Sunshine’s Role in The Tea Party’s Development

In 2009, on April 15 — the day that tax returns are due — a series of protests took place around America. The rallies were mainly of people angry about the bailouts and at what they perceived as the Obama administration’s drive to expand the role of government in American life.

On that day, the Tea Party as a significant force in American politics was born.

But was what followed influenced as much by luck as by other causes? That was the question a group of political scientists at Harvard recently set out to answer.

They found, unsurprisingly, a link between the weather on that day and the size of turnout at those original protests. But their really fascinating finding was that the presence or absence of sunshine on that day predicted which places would have the most active and engaged Tea Party organizations.

But there’s more. That one day’s weather went on to influence political decisions in subsequent months and years. This is from a Bloomberg report on the study:

It’s easy to imagine how this works. Showing up at a rally increases the chances of getting more involved, making a donation or bringing a friend to another event. Larger and more successful rallies also boost subsequent media coverage of the movement, further increasing community interest.

What’s more, the Tea Party experiment shows that the activism catalyzed by those sunny days translates into real political influence. Politicians whose districts were sunny on tax day voted in a more reliably conservative fashion throughout 2009 and 2010. Indeed, the absence of rain in a Congressional district on April 15, 2009 made its representative 8.7 percentage points more likely to vote against the Affordable Care Act. Had the weather at those early rallies been sunnier, it’s possible that Obama’s signature legislation wouldn’t have passed.

The researchers found similar effects in congressional elections.

It’s often said that the best politicians “make the weather.” Perhaps we underestimate how much the weather makes politicians.

Related stories:

Right-Wing Echo Chamber Suffers a Huge Fail

Epic FAIL: Anti-Tax Tea Party 2009 Roundup

Tenn. Tea Party Demands Removal Of Slavery From Textbooks

Picture of 2009 Tea Party protest at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut by Wikipedia


Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer4 years ago

Ron B
Wasn't sunshine a type of LSD... orange sunshine etc etc... I remember bits and pieces of the 70's and that "fact was either one of the bits or one of the pieces... ;-)

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer4 years ago

Cindy B
I try to remember to check the character and space count in my "Word" program before I post. Sometimes I remember, sometimes not... They say the second thing to go as one ages is the memory...just wish I could remember what the first thing

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer4 years ago

Compassionate America has been eroding for thirty years due to the rise in influence on Republicans nation-wide of Ayn Rand’s writings that pushed selfishness and greed as virtues and not deadly sins and the manipulations of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) exchange being ALEC lawyers writing up the outlines for laws they want to see enacted and handing them out at all expense paid retreats for their state legislative members. One type of these laws try take collective bargaining rights away from public employees (the largest block of unionized employees left in America) an endeavor started by Ronald Reagan when he fired en masse the PATCO members. ALEC corporate member National Rifle Association pushed for the "stand your ground,"/ "castle doctrine" laws now highlighted in the Trayvon Martin murder in Sanford FL. The fledgling Tea Party movement was co-opted early on by Dick Armey's Freedom Works which is funded by ALEC's Insurance and Health-care corporate members to do the dirty work in fighting any healthcare reform with outright lies like the health-care reform; will kill jobs, will bankrupt the country, will mean the introduction of 'death panels', will cut Medicare payments and the "individual mandate" will make insurance more expensive and/or will take away your private insurance. Tea Party members bussed to events by FreedomWorks held signs that said both “No to Government Run Health-care” and "Keep Your Hands Off My Medicare".

Cindy B.
Cindy Black4 years ago

Sheesh, I wish they'd bring back that "counter" thing! Cont'd:

..."go gentle" into that good night.... no, they'll take prisoners on the way down!

How would the tea-partiers, those genteel folks who scream bloody murder against abortion, react to the necessity to kill off all undesirables and less-than-competent persons in our society so "the rest of us" could live our lives INDEPENDENT of government controls and FREE of the need to support government programs for those persons? Don’t they realize that, to follow their platform, that’s exactly what we'd have to do?

Having worked in Human Services for many years, I know whereof I speak.

Cindy B.
Cindy Black4 years ago

There are always people who'll need help in life. That's simply because the gifts of NATURE and NURTURE are so inconsistent from person to person. People will do cruel and stupid things; people will be tacky; people will be impulsive; people will make poor lifestyle choices...

Many people aren't competitive in school, jobs and life because they simply didn't get the breaks, were never sufficiently intelligent or motivated, or simply don't have the personality for it. Perhaps they're more oriented to sensory experience, to experimentation and adventure in life (making them, actually, the "most human" among us...) Even if people try to steer them this way or that, try to explain how things are and what they should do, they might not be able to, or even WANT to, follow that advice. IS IT THEIR FAULT HOW THEY WERE BORN?

America touts itself as a compassionate society. Well, you simply cannot have a compassionate society if you have no system for assisting these people when they need it. And in this Brave New World where you snooze, you lose, THEY WILL NEED IT. THIS MEANS GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS. Without government programs to kinda even the score, we would simply have to kill off every "less than desirable" person at birth, or at least before they had the chance to procreate. Otherwise we should be prepared to sit back and watch them suffer, without concern or pity. Also we should be prepared to be victimized ourselves, as these people will not "go gentle"

Jennie R.
Jennie D4 years ago

Man is not free in a global feudal system either....... which is what comes of unfettered capitalism---and our protection against that, is government. I support Government of the people, by the people and for the people. When Wall Street messed us over, they scapegoated our government.

Sam Richardson

It's terrifying that these insane people could potentially ruin America's future just because its a sunny day out.

I shall therefore hope that all future progressive bills be made in the middle of thunderstorms.

Ron B.
Ron B4 years ago

You have to look under rocks to find the Tea Party. So how does sunshine factor into this?

mike rollo
mike rollo4 years ago

talk ing about govt getting in your private life.That's all the repugs are doing right now.Trying o get in your sex life,religious beliefs and telling ppl whothey can and can't marry.Not only are they hippocrits but their so called religious beliefs are the opposite of what Christ taught.They don't seem to know anything about what Christ taught but they sure as hell understand the numbers of zeroes on a check.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V4 years ago

The problem is NOT that the government has to much control but who controls the government. Have you people forgotten that WE are suppose to be the government, Of the People, for the People and BY THE PEOPLE.

The Republicans want a smaller government to make it easier for their corporate masters to work. After all the fewer in command the easier the take over.