U-Wash Report: Tea partiers ‘predisposed to intolerance’

A new study of race and politics released this week by the University of Washington reveals insight into how supporters of the tea party movement — the vast majority of whom are white — view blacks and Hispanics. Of the 45 percent of whites who say they strongly or somewhat approve of the tea party movement, the study report says, “only 35 percent believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 percent believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41 percent think that Blacks are trustworthy.”

Teaparty Table

The chart embedded above shows the range of responses to nine questions about race, ethnicity and sexuality. In each case, tea party supporters responded with what the researchers describe as “relatively intolerant views.”

In each case, across the range of support for the tea party movement, including those who had never heard of it, the true believers register relatively intolerant views. Of the nine (9) questions examined, there were only two instances in which the distance separating true believers from middle-of-the-roaders fell below 10 percentage points. On whether or not “…blacks have gotten les than they deserve,” the difference was 9 points, where true believers were more likely to disagree, and on whether “…you favor…laws to protect homosexuals against job discrimination,” where 4 points separated true believers from middle-of-the-roaders. The greatest differences emerge with questions tapping blacks, like other racial minorities, should work their way up “without any special favors,” and whether or not “gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to legally adopt.” In the first instance, true believers outpace those in the middle by 21 percentage points. In the second instance, support for gay rights, the gap separating the middle from true believers is 20 points, where the middle was more sympathetic. Overall, the average distance separating respective levels of tea party support, across various marginalized groups, after rounding, is 17% for blacks, 12% for immigrants, and 13% for gay rights, respectively.

What do “true believer” and “true skeptic” mean? The authors explain (in pollster speak):

Respondents were required to answer a question that asked whether or not they “strongly approved” or “somewhat approved” of the tea party, or whether or not one “somewhat approved” or “strongly disapproved” the tea party. True believers, for us, were those who strongly approved the movement (N = 117). True skeptics are those who strongly disapprove the party (N = 66). Middle of the roaders are those that either somewhat disapprove or somewhat approve (N = 171). We also include the group who claim to have never heard of the tea party movement, and so had no opinion the movement (N = 157).

The professor who led the study, conducted by the University’s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality, discusses his methodology here.


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