At the same time, the movement's supporters broadly reject the suggestion of racial prejudice against Obama. Eighty-seven percent of Tea Party backers say this is not a reason people support it. (One in 10 say it is). Racism, rather, is suggested by many Tea Party opponents, 57 percent of whom suspect prejudice in the movement's ranks. (Among people who are neutral toward the Tea Party, about a quarter, 24 percent, suspect prejudice is at play in its support.)
Tea Party supporters are less apt than others to see racism as a major problem in this country – a majority do so, 58 percent, compared with 75 percent of all Americans. However, this concern is about the same among Tea Party supporters as it is among all adults who define themselves as very conservative (61 percent say racism is a significant problem). And Tea Party supporters are more apt to be white – 81 percent, vs. 74 percent of all adults (and 65 percent of Tea Party opponents). Whites are less apt than nonwhites to see racism as a major problem.
Further, while 18 percent of Tea Party supporters say Obama is doing "too much" to represent the interests of African-Americans, exactly as many say he's doing too little in this regard. And those proportions are about equal among all Americans – 12 percent say Obama's doing too much for African-Americans, 13 percent too little.
Ultimately, a statistical analysis indicates that the strongest predictors of supporting the Tea Party are views of Obama, ideology, partisanship and anger at the way the government is operating. Views on the extent of racism as a problem, and views on Obama's efforts on behalf of African-Americans, are not significant predictors of support for the Tea Party movement.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 22-25, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.
ABC News polls can be found at ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollingunit.