More time and discussion has been devoted to the Tea Party during this election than perhaps any other issue. The fierce anti-tax movement has ignited the ire of Democrats and Republicans alike, but also inspired millions of Americans eager for an alternative to big government. But what does it mean to be a Tea Party candidate? By combining funding data from the FEC and a (subjective) list of Tea Party candidates from, we made this list which shows how campaign finance differs for the Tea Party.

The lesson here: the Tea Party truly is a grass roots movement, funded and powered by individual citizens. Tea Party candidates receive over 83% of their total funding from individuals, compared to 51% for all other candidates (D/R/I all included). PAC's need not apply, either. However, if you mouse over you will notice that the Tea Party has only a minuscule portion of the total funding in this years election (with far fewer candidates as well). This tells us that the movement will not likely result in a true split of the Republican party, but rather a change in the ideology of the main party. Discuss at will!

Editors note: this post is not intended to make any endorsement of any candidate, Democrat, Republican or Republican/Tea Party. We simply wish to incite discussion about the differences between the candidates.


It's not accurate to conclude "the Tea Party truly is a grass roots movement" simply due to the fact that it is "funded and powered by individual citizens." Two of the individual citizens who fund Americans for Prosperity, the organization that has extensively supported and guided the tea party, are the Koch brothers, who have personally contributed more than $100 million to support the tea party and related causes. They are indeed individual, but they're hardly representative of an everyman uprising.

The notion of being a grassroots movement is very appealing to the teabaggers, but it's not accurate. This data shouldn't be used to obscure what's actually happening.

Nice viz Ross - I like some of the other views in the download even better than this one.

Thanks Dan.

Noah, I completely agree that the data should not be used to obscure what is actually happening. Regarding the Koch brothers, there are myriad large donors for each party, so the data for the tea party candidates is not any less relevant than for other candidates. My main point was that Tea Party candidates are funded by individuals more than other candidates and that they eschew PAC money- which is accurate.

As always, please feel free to edit the visualization as you see fit to find a better way to tell the story. I just wanted to get the conversation started.