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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Gallup summarizes the surveys on the TPM at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/147635/tea-party-movement.aspx.
A summary of this survey can be found at https://www.prri.org/search-survey-questions/?keyword=tea+party.
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).
As reported by a December 2012 CBS poll, 89% of Tea Party supporters were white (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tea-party-supporters-who-they-are-and-what-they-believe/). See also http://news.gallup.com/poll/177788/tea-party-support-holds.aspx for similar figures.
Abramowitz, A. (2011). Partisan polarization and the rise of the Tea Party movement. In APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper.
Abramowitz, A. I. (2014). Republican leaders’ two choices. Democracy, 31, 14.
Arceneaux, K., & Nicholson, S. P. (2012). Who wants to have a Tea Party? The who, what, and why of the Tea Party movement. PS: Political Science & Politics, 45(04), 700–710. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096512000741.
Banks, A. J. (2014). The public’s anger: White racial attitudes and opinions toward health care reform. Political Behavior, 36(3), 493–514. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-013-9251-3.
Banks, A. J. (2016). Are group cues necessary? How anger makes ethnocentrism among whites a stronger predictor of racial and immigration policy opinions. Political Behavior, 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-016-9330-3.
Barreto, M. A., Cooper, B. L., Gonzalez, B., Parker, C. S., & Towler, C. (2011). The Tea Party in the age of Obama: Mainstream conservatism or out-group anxiety? Political Power and Social Theory, 22(1), 105–137. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0198-8719(2011)0000022011.
Bobo, L. D. (2017). Racism in Trump’s America: Reflections on culture, sociology, and the 2016 US presidential election. The British Journal of Sociology, 68, 85–104.
Carey, N. (2016). Trump’s appeal divides Tea Party loyalties in crucial states. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-teaparty-idUSKCN0WH133. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple correlation/regression analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hove, UK: Taylor & Francis.
Fairchild, A. J., & MacKinnon, D. P. (2009). A general model for testing mediation and moderation effects. Prevention Science, 10, 87–99.
Fisher, P. (2015). The Tea Party and the demographic and ideological gaps within the Republican Party. Geopolitics, History and International Relations, 7(2), 13. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1733629437?accountid=13698.
Ford, P. K., Maxwell, A., & Shields, T. (2010). What’s the Matter with Arkansas? Symbolic Racism and 2008 Presidential Candidate Support. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 40(2), 286–302. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23044821.
Frum, D. (2016). The Great Republican revolt. The Atlantic. Retrieved on March 17, 2016 from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/the-great-republican-revolt/419118/.
Goldman, S. K. (2017). Explaining white opposition to black political leadership: The role of fear of racial favoritism. Political Psychology, 38, 721–739.
Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Publications.
Hehman, E., Gaertner, S. L., & Dovidio, J. F. (2011). Evaluations of presidential performance: Race, prejudice, and perceptions of Americanism. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(2), 430–435.
Henry, P. J., & Sears, D. O. (2002). The symbolic racism 2000 scale. Political Psychology, 23, 253–283.
Hood, M. V., Kidd, Q., & Morris, I. L. (2015). Tea leaves and southern politics: Explaining Tea Party support in the region. Social Science Quarterly, 96(4), 923–940. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12171.
Kam, C. D., & Kinder, D. R. (2012). Ethnocentrism as a short-term force in the 2008 American presidential election. American Journal of Political Science, 56(2), 326–340. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00564.x.
Kim, C. J. (2011). President Obama and the Polymorphous Other in US Political Discourse. Asian American Law Journal, 18, 165. https://doi.org/10.15779/Z38SZ99.
Kinder, D., & Chudy, J. (2016a). After Obama. The Forum, 14, 3–15.
Kinder, C. D., & Chudy, J. (2016b). After Obama. The Forum, 14, 3–15.
Kinder, D. R., & Dale-Riddle, A. (2012). The end of race? Obama, 2008 and racial politics in America. New Heaven: Yale University Press.
Kinder, D. R., & Kam, C. D. (2009). Us versus them: Ethnocentric foundations of American public opinion. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Kinder, D. R., & Sears, D. O. (1981). Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40(3), 414–431.
Kloppenberg, J. T. (2012). Reading Obama: Dreams, hope, and the American political tradition. Princeton University Press.
Knoll, B. R., & Shewmaker, J. (2015). “Simply un-American”: nativism and support for health care reform. Political Behavior, 37(1), 87–108. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-013-9263-z.
Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Shulman, E. P., & Schaumberg, R. L. (2013). Race, ideology, and the Tea Party: A longitudinal study. PLoS One, 8(6), e67110. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067110.
Knuckey, J., & Kim, M. (2015). Racial resentment, old-fashioned racism, and the vote choice of southern and nonsouthern whites in the 2012 US presidential election. Social Science Quarterly, 96(4), 905–922. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12184.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., Tien, C., & Nadeau, R. (2010). Obama’s missed landslide: A racial cost?. PS: Political Science & Politics, 43(01), 69–76. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25699295.
Libby, R. T. (2015). Has the Tea Party eclipsed the republican establishment in the 2016 presidential elections? Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs, (3) https://doi.org/10.4172/2332-0761.1000183.
Lind, M. (2016). Politico magazine. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/donald-trump-the-perfect-populist-213697. Retrieved March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
Lundberg, K. B., Payne, B. K., Pasek, J., & Krosnick, J. A. (2017). Racial attitudes predicted changes in ostensibly race-neutral political attitudes under the Obama administration. Political Psychology, 38, 313–330.
Luttig, M. D., Federico, C. M., & Lavine, H. (2017). Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump respond differently to racial cues: An experimental analysis. Research and Politics, 4, 2053168017737411.
Maxwell, A., & Parent, T. W. (2012). The Obama trigger: presidential approval and Tea Party membership. Social Science Quarterly, 93(5), 1384–1401. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00907.x.
Maxwell, A., & Parent, T. W. (2013). A “subterranean agenda”? Racial attitudes, presidential evaluations, and Tea Party membership. Race and Social Problems, 5(3), 226–237. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-013-9097-7.
Mendelberg, T. (2001). The race card: Campaign strategy, implicit messages, and the norm of equality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mudde, C., & Kaltwasser, C. R. (2017). Populism: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Parker, C. S. (2016). Race and politics in the age of Obama. Annual Review of Sociology, 42, 217–230.
Parker, C. S., & Barreto, M. A. (2014). Change they can’t believe in: The Tea Party and reactionary politics in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Pasek, J., Tahk, A., Lelkes, Y., Krosnick, J. A., Payne, B. K., Akhtar, O., et al. (2009). Determinants of turnout and candidate choice in the 2008 US presidential election illuminating the impact of racial prejudice and other considerations. Public Opinion Quarterly, 73(5), 943–994. https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfp079.
Pease, D. E. (2010). States of fantasy: Barack Obama versus the Tea Party movement. Boundary, 37(2), 89–105. https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2010-004.
Public Religion Research Institute. (2015). Anxiety, Nostalgia and Mistrust (2015). http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/PRRI-AVS-2015-Web.pdf. Retrieved Retrieved January 10, 2016.
Ragusa, J. M., & Gaspar, A. (2016). Where’s the Tea Party? An Examination of the Tea Party’s Voting Behavior in the House of Representatives. Political Research Quarterly, 69, 361–372.
Rahn, W., & Oliver, E. (2016). Trump’s voters aren’t authoritarians, new research says. So what are they? The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/09/trumps-voters-arent-authoritarians-new-research-says-so-what-are-they/. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
Redlawsk, D. P., Tolbert, C. J., & Franko, W. (2010). Voters, emotions, and race in 2008: Obama as the first black president. Political Research Quarterly, 63, 875–889.
Rohlinger, D. A., & Bunnage, L. (2017). Did the Tea Party movement fuel the trump-train? The role of social media in activist persistence and political change in the 21st century. Social Media+Society, 3, 1–11.
Savage, M. (2012). Trickle down tyranny: Crushing Obama’s dream of the socialist states of America. Harper Collins.
Sears, D. O., & Henry, P. J. (2003). The origins of symbolic racism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 259.
Segura, G. M., & Valenzuela, A. A. (2010). Hope, tropes and dopes: Hispanic and White Animus in the 2008 Election. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 40(3), 497–514. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5705.2010.03783.x.
Shermer, E. T. (2017). Party crashers: How far-right demagogues took over the GOP. Dissent, 64, 147–151.
Tesler, M. (2012). The spillover of racialization into health care: How President Obama polarized public opinion by racial attitudes and race. American Journal of Political Science, 56(3), 690–704. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00577.x.
Tesler, M. (2013). The return of old-fashioned racism to White Americans’ partisan preferences in the early Obama era. The Journal of Politics, 75(01), 110–123. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022381612000904.
Tesler, M. (2016). Post-racial or most-racial?: Race and politics in the Obama Era. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Tesler, M., & Sides, J. (2016). How political science helps explain the rise of Trump: The role of white identity and grievances. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/03/how-political-science-helps-explain-the-rise-of-trump-the-role-of-white-identity-and-grievances/. Retrived March 15, 2016.
Tope, D., Pickett, J. T., & Chiricos, T. (2015). Anti-minority attitudes and Tea Party Movement membership. Social Science Research, 51, 322–337. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.09.006.
Turney, S., Levy, F., Citrin, J., & O’Brian, N. (2017). Waiting for Trump: The move to the right of white working-class men, 1968–2016. California Journal of Politics & Policy. UC Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1cq9k81z.
Valentino, N. A., Hutchings, V. L., & White, I. K. (2002). Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review, 96, 75–90.
Valentino, N. A., Neuner, F. G., & Vandenbroek, L. M. (2017). The changing norms of racial political rhetoric and the end of racial priming. The Journal of Politics. https://doi.org/10.1086/694845.
Valentino, N. A., & Sears, D. O. (2005). Old times there are not forgotten: Race and partisan realignment in the contemporary South. American Journal of Political Science, 49(3), 672–688. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2005.00136.x.
Walker, C. E. (2011). “We’re losing our country”: Barack Obama. Race & the Tea Party. Daedalus, 140(1), 125–130. https://doi.org/10.1162/DAED_a_00064.
White, J. K. (2017). Donald Trump and the Republican Party: The making of a Faustian Bargain. Studies in Media and Communication, 5, 8–20.
Wilkinson, F. (2015). If the Tea Party is dying, why is Trump winning? Bloomberg View, November 20, 2015. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-20/if-the-tea-party-is-dying-why-is-donald-trump-winning. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
Williamson, V., Skocpol, T., & Coggin, J. (2011). The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican conservatism. Perspectives on Politics, 9(01), 25–43. https://doi.org/10.1017/S153759271000407X.
Zeskind, L. (2012). A nation dispossessed: The Tea Party movement and race. Critical Sociology, 38(4), 495–509. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177%2F0896920511431852.
Zigerell, L. J. (2015). Distinguishing racism from ideology: A methodological inquiry. Political Research Quarterly, 68(3), 521–536. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177%2F1065912915586631.
About this article
Cite this article
Leone, L., Presaghi, F. Tea Party Support, Racial Resentment and Evaluations of Obama: A Moderation Analysis. Race Soc Probl 10, 91–100 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-018-9224-6
- Racial resentment
- Party identification
- Tea Party