Via Mike Tomasky, a study from the University of Washington shows that members of the Tea Party movement have higher-than-average levels of racial resentment:
“The data suggests that people who are Tea Party supporters have a higher probability” – 25 percent, to be exact – “of being racially resentful than those who are not Tea Party supporters,” says Christopher Parker, who directed the study. “The Tea Party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race.”
I think that quote from Parker is actually a bit misleading. On two previous occasions I’ve recommended an excellent book from Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam called Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion which I think demonstrates pretty conclusively that American political opinions across the board are tied in with racial attitudes in a very intimate way. It’s wrong to posit “politics and the size of government” as one thing and “race” as another. Tea Partiers have a set of political views that are themselves associated with what Kinder and Kam call ethnocentric sentiments among white people—specifically hostility to means-tested social welfare programs. Ethnocentrism exists among blacks and Latinos too, of course, and that has political consequences of its own, just in different directions. My guess would be that if you looked at the small number of non-white Tea Parties, you’d see that ethnocentrism was unusually rare among that group.