Tea Party, Evangelicals and Race
Another set of findings in the survey released by Public Religion Research Institute today touches on Tea Party supporters’ racial and social attitudes: 58% agreed that the government “has paid too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities,” compared with 37% of Americans as a whole and 38% of white Evangelicals who hold this view. In another noteworthy and disturbing finding, 64% of Tea Party supporters agreed that “it is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others.” By comparison, just 41% of the general population and 50% of white Evangelicals agreed with this statement.
So, in comparison to both the general population and white Evangelicals – who are usually considered one of the most conservative demographic segments of the population — the Tea Party is distinguished by a sense of racial grievance and a lack of concern for equal opportunity. Tea Partiers’ beliefs about immigrants are also notably more negative than the population as a whole, with 65 % saying immigrants are “a burden on the country,” compared to 48 percent of the general population who hold this view. (However, on this question white evangelicals are closer to the Tea Party than the general population, with 64% saying immigrants are a burden.)
I think it’s counterproductive and an overgeneralization to paint the Tea Party as actively racist at its core, but it’s clear that racial resentment and a lack of concern for equality are strikingly more predominant among self-identified Tea Party supporters than among the population as a whole.