The emergence of Donald Trump seems, with the clarity of hindsight, to almost be predictable. Of course an outsider candidate would surge in the 2016 presidential campaign. The Republican Party has had an active rebellion brewing within its ranks since the Tea Party rose to prominence in 2010. Speaker of the House John Boehner has been forced to repeatedly repel raids from a small, determined conservative bloc for years. It's only natural that, as happened in 2012, the discontent segment of the party would seize on someone with zeal.
But, then, the core of the Tea Party doesn't really seem like it would latch onto Trump as its candidate. Trump's base of support in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll was a bit smaller than the Tea Party at its peak -- in October 2010 -- but not much. Back then, 38 percent of Republicans and leaning independents supported the Tea Party; 31 percent of Republicans and leaning independents would definitely support Trump in a general election bid.
So to what extent does the Tea Party overlap with the T (as in Trump) Party?
Trump's supporters are more moderate than Tea Partiers were.
It's a bit tricky to compare the T Party with the Tea Party, because the Republican party isn't the same as it was five years ago. So the charts below compare Tea Partiers to non-Tea Partiers in 2010 and Trump fans to non-Trump fans in 2015.
In 2010, Tea Partiers were far more conservative than non-Tea Partiers. That's substantially less the case with Trump supporters -- though they're still more heavily conservative than non-Trump supporters.
Trump supporters are more likely to call themselves Republican than Tea Partiers were.
They're also much less likely to call themselves independent. Part of this dynamic is likely due to Tea Partiers' dissatisfaction with the Republican Party, which is less important to supporters of Trump.
Trump's fans are younger than Tea Party backers were.
Trump fans are slightly more likely to be 18 to 39 than non-Trump fans. In 2010, Tea Partiers were way less likely to be under 40 than non-Tea Partiers -- and were way more likely to be between 40 to 64.
Trump fans earn less and are less likely to have college degrees.
In 2010, Tea Party supporters were more likely to make over $50,000 annually and more likely to have college degrees than non-Tea Party supporters. For Trump fans, the opposite is true.
What this suggests is that Trump's appeal extends beyond the appeal that the Tea Party held. It's a rebellion, yes, but of a slightly different flavor than 2010.
Fox News still asks poll respondents if they identify as members of the Tea Party. In June, before the Trump surge, 14 percent of them backed Trump. Nineteen percent backed Scott Walker, who at the time was tied for the lead in polling averages. In subsequent Fox News polls, Tea Partiers aren't broken out, presumably because there weren't enough of them to be statistically valid.
Or maybe because they'd joined the T Party instead.