DES MOINES, Iowa -- Jacob Hall lives in the most conservative corner of Iowa, arguably the most politically active state in the nation.
But when Hall decided to form a tea party group in Sioux City, he found that while his neighbors seemed to share his distrust of government, they weren't eager to join. "A lot of it is complacency," said Hall.
The tea party protest movement has spread like wildfire across the country in recent months and injected intensity into the 2010 election campaign. However, an Associated Press analysis of the movement finds it's getting a ho-hum response in the one place that usually connects most with national politics, courtesy of the special role its caucuses play kicking off every presidential campaign.
Local tea partiers have staged only one large rally here, and that was a year ago. Democratic Party officials say their candidates -- the prime target of the movement's conservative activists -- don't sense angry tea partiers deploying.
"I don't know if they are organized in any of the races," said Mark Daley, a veteran Democratic strategist.
What's the matter with Iowa?
Nationwide, the tea party movement has been fueled by angry protests from grass-roots conservatives that the major political parties are letting the government grow too large, spend too much and ignore average people's interests. They are demanding a sharp turn to the right, and threatening vengeance against compromising officeholders.
But Iowa's insurgency may be stunted by two key obstacles -- a dearth of outrage and a shortage of politically frustrated outsiders.
Instead, it's a state where desperate-to-please Republican and Democratic presidential candidates go door to door each election year asking average Iowans to share their views over a cup of coffee or entice them to events with pie and ice cream.
Political organizers for the major parties spend months, even years, reaching out to regular people to get them to caucus gatherings on an icy January night and help launch candidates on their journey to the White House.
"Iowa is a relatively small state," said former Iowa Republican Chairman Richard Schwarm. "If you want to make a difference in Iowa, you have to be involved in that kind of politics."
There's also the demeanor problem. In other states, Democrats and "RINOS" (Republicans in Name Only) are getting scorched at tea party rallies. But, says the Democrats' Daley, "People in Iowa have been very, very polite."
All that hasn't stopped some tea party activists from trying, though, and they point to the success of that one rally, an anti-tax event held on April 15, 2009, at the Statehouse that drew an estimated 3,000 people.
Also, a Des Moines Register poll in February showed one-third of residents supporting the tea party.
Charlie Gruschow, who founded a tea party group in Des Moines, noted the organization is only a year old, and he thinks it will grow as members spread the word about their beliefs and how they contrast with some candidates' actions.
Iowa Tea Party chairman Ryan Rhodes said most people who participate in tea party activities also are active in Republican politics.
"I think there are parts of the (Republican) platform that the tea party mirrors," Rhodes said. "But there's an awful lot of Republicans that have been in office and tea partiers are just as mad at them as they are at others."
In Iowa, GOP organizers will be working to make sure those people stay warmly welcomed Republican party insiders rather than frustrated outsiders.
"Certainly, we've got two very strongly organized parties," said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford agreed.