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Tea Party Support, Racial Resentment and Evaluations of Obama: A Moderation Analysis


Research has ascertained that a peculiar feature of support for the Tea Party movement can be traced back to former President Barack Obama himself. Animosity toward Obama has been linked in turn to partisanship and racial resentment. However, whether or not support for the Tea Party acts as a moderator in shaping how racial resentment and party identification infuse negative evaluations of Obama has not yet been investigated. Using the 2012 American National Election Studies sample, we found that higher levels of Tea Party support strengthen the magnitude of the association of racial resentment with negative evaluations of Obama. Conversely, higher levels of Tea Party support reduced the association of party identification with evaluations of Obama. The results are discussed by emphasizing the role of Tea Party rhetoric in making more relevant the activation of racial resentment.

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  1. Gallup summarizes the surveys on the TPM at:

  2. A summary of this survey can be found at

  3. In this study, we use the term racial resentment to refer to measures and concepts elsewhere labeled as Symbolic Racism (e.g., Ford et al. 2010) or Racial Animosity (Valentino and Sears 2005). We concur with recent suggestions that emphasize how racial resentment more aptly describes the empirical content of such measures (Zigerell 2015).

  4. As reported by a December 2012 CBS poll, 89% of Tea Party supporters were white ( See also for similar figures.


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Correspondence to Luigi Leone.

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Leone, L., Presaghi, F. Tea Party Support, Racial Resentment and Evaluations of Obama: A Moderation Analysis. Race Soc Probl 10, 91–100 (2018).

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  • Racial resentment
  • Party identification
  • Tea Party
  • Moderation