The number of hate groups based on racism, anti-Semitism and anti-gay sentiment grew from 926 to 932 in 2009. SPLC said this increase caps a decade in which the number of hate groups surged by 55 percent from 2000 to 2009 (602 groups to 932).
Potok says the expansion of hate groups in 2009 would have been much greater if not for the demise of the American National Socialist Workers Party, a key neo-Nazi group whose founder, Bill White, was arrested in October 2008. The group had 35 chapters.
Taken together, these three radical strands -- antigovernment Patriot groups, nativist extremist groups and hate groups -- increased their numbers by approximately 40 percent in 2009, according to Potok.
Potok said one of the main fears is that these radical groups are infiltrating mainstream groups like the Tea Party movement because of cross pollination of individuals who attend radical group meetings and more mainstream gatherings.
Potok said he thinks that the climate today matches that of the 'white hot' tension among anti-government groups prior to the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 150 people in 1995.
"Another Oklahoma City is very much a possibility," said Potok.