Many people identify the Tea Party with the religious right and social conservatism. A new study of public opinion suggests this common view is misguided. The Tea Party is united on economic issues, but split on the social issues it avoids. Roughly half the Tea Party is socially conservative, half is libertarian â€” or, fiscally conservative, but socially moderate to liberal. Understanding the Tea Party’s strong libertarian roots helps explain how the Tea Party movement has become a functionally libertarian influence on the Republican Party. Even social conservatives and evangelicals within the Tea Party act like libertarians. The Tea Party is upending the conventional wisdom that Republican candidates must placate socially conservative voters to win primaries. These surprising findings are sure to generate controversy and debate.