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Poll on Tea Party/minorities a 'hit piece,' Tucson organizer says

U of Wash. survey says Tea Party supporters hold negative attitudes on race

The Tea Party's strongest supporters have negative views on minorities, according to a survey by the University of Washington. A local Tea Party organizer called the poll a "political hit piece."

45 percent of whites approve of the Tea Party movement, and only 35 percent of that group think Blacks are hardworking, according to the 2010 Multi-state Survey of Race & Politics.

"The Tea Party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race,"said Prof. Christopher Parker, who directed the survey.

"I'm not buying it," said Trent Humphries, an organizer behind the Tucson Tea Party. "That survey was looking for controversy from the get-go. That's a hit piece. How in the world can you trust a survey that's a hit piece?"

The study, performed Feb. 8 - March 15, also reports that white Tea Party supporters don't think highly of Latinos:

... Only 45% believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy. Perceptions of Latinos aren’t much different. While 54% of White Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be hardworking, only 44% think them intelligent, and even fewer, 42%,  . . . believe Latinos to be trustworthy. When it comes to gays and lesbians, white Tea Party supporters also hold negative attitudes. Only 36% think gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children, and just 17% are in favor of same-sex marriage.

According to the survey, 59 percent of whites who strongly approve of the Tea Party believe immigrants likely take jobs from U.S. residents, compared with 24 percent who strongly disapprove. 53 percent think immigration should be decreased, and 45 percent say all undocumented immigrants should be immediately deported. Those who disapprove with the Tea Party agree with those ideas only 29 and 11 percent, respectively.

The survey's margin of error is 3.1 percent.

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A UW press release on  the survey refers to "those who are racially resentful," saying that those who believe the government has done too much to support Blacks are 36 percent more likely to support the Tea Party.

The survey included 1,006 people in Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and California. 505 whites were questioned, of whom 45 percent support the Tea Party.

"If you want to discuss policy, let's do that," said Humphries. The meme that Tea Partiers are racist is "a classic political smear," he said.

"It's driven by people who think, 'If you don't believe what we believe, there has to be some nefarious reason. It must be racism," said Humphries. "If we're wrong, call us out on that, but don't impugn our character. This is all innuendo and accusation."

"Based on the small sample size, I can't trust the results. That's not a random sample," said Humphries. "Look at  his quotes. You can tell he had a political axe to grind even before he began the poll. He's putting the most damning points on a small sample size."

"Our main speaker [radio host James T. Harris] at the [Tax Day Tea Party] is black. Why in the world would we invite that guy to speak if we're racist?"

A poll released last week shows that Tea Partiers may skew right in their politics, but are demographically average.

In age, education, employment and race, Tea Party supporters align with the public at large, according to a March 26-28 USA Today/Gallup poll.

34 percent of supporters have no college education, while 35 percent of the general public did not attend. 16 percent are college graduates and a further  15 percent have a post-graduate degree, compared with 17 and 16 percent of all Americans, according to Gallup.

79 percent of Tea Party supporters are non-Hispanic whites. 75 percent of the general public fit that description.

While Tea Partiers may be demographically similar to the average American, the polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight.com points out - based on the UW poll - that their views are quite different:

Tea party sympathizers believe blacks are less intelligent, hardworking and trustworthy. They appear to be particularly wary of immigrants. And they don't much care for gays, either. (Although note that two-thirds of them support gays in the military, an issue on which policy has long lagged public sentiment.)

Again, this is a comparison of white attitudes, not differences between whites and non-whites. Which means that avid white tea party sympathizers do not even hold mainstream attitudes among whites.

What's your take?

Do you support the Tea Party? How do you views on race compare to the results of the UW survey? Will you attend the Tax Day Tea Party on Thursday?

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3 comments on this story

Apr 13, 2010, 10:03 pm
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The Tea Party folks are not all racists, but I’m afraid their willful ignorance on other issues is a refutation of the notion human perfectibility. It has always puzzled me that the right wing in general, and the Republican party in particular, has continuously sought to put a minority face on some of the most odious, and, frankly, racist of their policies—the part that puzzles me as that they actually think people fall for this ploy. Picking the opportunistic Micheal Steele as RNC chairman is only the most recent example of this. I’m not saying that are no minorities or people of color who are conservative. Many of them are conservative on certain issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But the one or two African-Americans or Latinos the Tea Party likes to put forward at their otherwise almost totally white rallies do not constitute some indicator that they have any real support among minorities. And, no, I won’t be attending. It conflicts with the UFO abductee reunion down in Arivaca.

Apr 12, 2010, 3:09 pm
-0 +0

The apparent popularity of the Tea Party is evidence that the gene pool is in serious need of chlorination. Good grief, they use the Alaskan Airhead as their spokesperson. That alone is proof that they are a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.

Apr 12, 2010, 2:59 pm
-0 +0

Definitely a hit piece - it’s well known that reality has a leftist bias.
Luckily we can be sure that we won’t see this on Fox News so it doesn’t exist.

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A sign at a Tea Party rally in Nevada, March 2010.

Tax Day Tea Party

The Tucson Tea Party will rally downtown on April 15 at El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Speakers at the event will include radio hosts James T. Harris and Jon Justice, comedian Stephen Kruiser, and representatives from the Goldwater Institute, Arizona Policy Institute and others.

On the Web

James T. Harris: www.jamestharris.com