By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times
Two years after it burst onto the political scene, the tea party is getting a critical eye from political science academics who say the movement generally is populated by knowledgeable and religiously devout voters, but they are hypocritical and more likely to be motivated by â€œracial resentment.â€
Gathering this weekend in Seattle for the annualÂ American Political Science Association convention, several professors argued that tea party Republicans are more likely than other voters, and even than most others in theÂ GOP, to harbor racial hostility, as judged by their answers in a broad pre-election survey administered in October 2010.
â€œTea Party activists have denied accusations that their movement is racist, and there is nothing intrinsically racist about opposing â€˜big governmentâ€™ or clean energy legislation or health care reform. But it is clear that the movement is more appealing to people who are unsympathetic to blacks and who prefer a harder line on illegal immigration than it is to other Americans,â€ wroteÂ Gary C. Jacobson, a professor at theÂ University of California, San Diego, in his paper â€œThe President, the Tea Party, and Voting Behavior in 2010.â€
In another paper,Â Alan I. Abramowitz, a professor at Emory University, crunched the numbers from the American National Election Studiesâ€™ October 2010 pre-election survey and drew up a portrait of tea party voters that found they are more likely than other Republicans to be registered to vote, to have contacted a public official or to have given to a campaign. They also are generally older, wealthier and more likely to be evangelical.
But likeÂ Mr. Jacobson,Â Mr. Abramowitz also said they were more likely to harbor racial resentment, which he judged based on their answers to questions such as whether blacks could succeed as well as whites if they â€œwould only try harder,â€ and whether they agreed with the statement that Irish, Italians and Jews overcame prejudice and â€œblacks should do the same without any special favors.â€
Mr. Abramowitz said tea party supporters were substantially more likely than other voters to question how much effort black Americans are making to advance themselves versus being held back by social factors.
â€œTea Party supporters displayed high levels of racial resentment and held very negative opinions about PresidentÂ Obama compared with the rest of the public and even other Republicans,â€Â Mr. Abramowitz wrote. â€œIn a multivariate analysis, racial resentment and dislike ofÂ Barack Obama, along with conservatism, emerged as the most important factors contributing to support for theÂ Tea Party movement.â€
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