The Tea Party’s Defining Characteristic

A recent book on the Tea Party by Christopher Parker and Matt Barreto suggests that hate of Obama unifies the group. This prompts Michael O’Donnell to ask, “If Obama-bashing sustains the Tea Party, will it go away without him?”

According to Parker and Barreto, 91 percent of Tea Party supporters hold negative opinions of Obama. (This beats the 82 percent who hold negative views of illegal immigrants, and, even more tellingly, the 85 percent who report a preference for limited government.) Sixty-seven percent of Tea Party supporters believe that Obama is a socialist, and 71 percent think he will destroy the country. Destroy the country! In contravention of basic, established facts, solid majorities do not believe that he is a Christian (71 percent) or that he was born in the United States (59 percent). Parker and Barreto take pains to distinguish these views from those of non-Tea Party conservatives, and to ensure—by means of regression analysis—that Tea Party affinity, and not some other factor like support for the Republican Party, accounts for the figures.