The Pew Research Center came out with a study today that may shed some light on how public pressure influenced the way the debt deal went down last week. Those Republican and Republican-leaning U.S. adults who agreed with the Tea Party were twice as likely to contact an elected official regarding the debt ceiling debate than the average American. 20 percent of Tea Partiers said they reached out to a representative in the days leading up to the deal, compared to 10 percent of the general population, as indicated in the chart above.
Tea Partiers' proclivity for calling and emailing reps might in part explain its seemingly oversized influence in crafting the deal. There's also indication that the Tea Party controlled (or, for a more partisan spin, "hijacked") the debt debate within the GOP; only 5 percent of conservatives who distanced themselves from the Tea Party in the survey contacted an official. In general, those on the policial extremes were more politically active. Self-identified "conservative" Republicans were twice as likely to contact one official than their more moderate GOP counterparts. Similarly, "liberal" Democrats were about one and a half times more like to do so than moderates in their party. Even though these steadfast partisans were vocal before the deal, they were the most upset after it. Pew hasn't released a survey on everybody's reaction to the deal just yet, but we gain a sense of Tea Partiers' and progressives' disappointment by what some representatives are saying. Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann came out strong against the deal after it was signed, saying it wasn't what the public wanted, while Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, "This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return."