Tea Party Closely Linked to Religious Right, Poll Finds

Oct 5, 2010 1:39pm

ABC News' Huma Khan reports: Nearly half of those who identify with the Tea Party movement are part of the religious right, according to a Public Religion Research Institute poll released today.

Eight out of ten Americans who identified with the Tea Party were Christians and 47 percent said they were part of the Christian conservative movement, the poll found.

But the grassroots movement remains a small part of the population overall. Christian conservatives make up 22 percent of the population but those who favor the Tea Party only comprise half of that, about 11 percent of the population. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 94 percent, who support the Tea Party movement were white men and more than half were 50 or older, according to the survey.

Tea Partiers have rallied around the issue of smaller government, lower taxes, free enterprise and individual freedom.

Candidates like Kentucky Senate hopeful Rand Paul who were backed by the Tea Party ran on libertarian values, but the Public Religious Research Institute poll found that a majority of Tea Partiers are not likely to lean libertarian on social issues. Nearly two-thirds of those polled, 63 percent, believed abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only 18 percent supported same-sex marriage.

There was overwhelming support for Sarah Palin, a key figure in the movement. Eighty-percent had a favorable view of the former Alaska governor, while 75 percent held an unfavorable view of President Obama.

Palin has become a leading supporter of the Tea Party, and has endorsed several candidates running on the Tea Party agenda. SarahPAC released an ad last month extolling the Tea Party with not one mention of the GOP, leading many to wonder whether Palin was establishing herself as an leader of the movement that lacks a unified voice.

Six in ten respondents who said they were part of the Tea Party also said Fox is their trusted source for news, more than twice as high as the general population.

The Tea Party movement proved itself to be a formidable force in the primaries. Several candidates backed by national Tea Party groups successfully defeated candidates favored by the Republican establishment. But recent polls show that interest may be waning.

The Public Religion Research Institute poll, which was conducted Sept. 1-14, found that 31 percent of voters would be less likely to support a Tea Party-favored candidate, versus 24 percent who would.

Read the full report HERE.

An ABC News/Washington post poll released today showed even less support. In July, 30 percent of registered voters said they'd be more apt to support a candidate if he or she were affiliated with the Tea Party. Today, that number has dropped to 18 percent. Opposition to such candidates, meanwhile, has held about steady at 28 percent, meaning Tea Party affiliation has gone from a neutral factor to a net negative.

Read more about the findings of the latest ABC News/Washington poll HERE.

 

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