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October 17, 2018

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Researcher says tea party voters fear change


AP Photo/Scott Sady

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin speaks to the crowd during the kickoff of the nationwide Tea Party Express bus tour in Reno on Monday, Oct. 18, 2010.

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Tea party voters are more likely to fear change and harbor negative attitudes toward immigrants, according to a study presented Monday at the American Sociological Association's annual conference in Las Vegas.

The study, called "Cultures of the Tea Party," also claims voters who felt favorably toward the tea party movement valued deference to authority and libertarianism. The report concludes that the tea party movement is not a new political phenomenon, but rather "is best understood as a new cultural expression of the late-20th-century Republican Party."

The findings are based on a telephone poll of nearly 4,500 registered voters in North Carolina and Tennessee conducted last year. The researchers also conducted 10 interviews and kept track of any signs and costumes at a tea party rally in North Carolina. Andrew Perrin, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was the main author of the study.

The study concludes that 18 percent of tea party supporters felt very negatively toward immigrants compared to 12 percent of voters who don't support the tea party movement.

The poll also found that 51 percent of people who were very concerned about "changes taking place in American society these days" were tea party supporters. Nearly 85 percent of tea party supporters said the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted "as the Founders intended," compared to only 34 percent of other respondents.

But tea party supporters were twice as likely as others to favor constitutional amendments, including a ban on flag burning and an overhaul of the 14th Amendment, which states that people born in the United States are citizens.

"The (tea party) supporters' inconsistent views of the Constitution suggests that their nostalgic embrace of the document is animated more by a network of cultural associations than a thorough commitment to the original text," the report states.

Tea party supporters also overwhelmingly viewed President Barack Obama as "not at all" like them and 66 percent of conservatives who support the tea party movement say he is not a Christian.

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