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June 1, 2010 at 11:43 AM

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New poll looks at tea party views toward minorities

Posted by Andrew Garber

A new University of Washington poll suggests tea party supporters are not just angry about government spending and the new national health care law.

"The data tells us this opposition and frustration with government is going hand in hand with a frustration and opposition to racial and ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians," said Matt Barreto, a political science professor and director of UW's Washington Poll.

The poll, released on Tuesday, surveyed 1,695 voters in May by phone and has a 2.3 percent margin of error. It found that 35 percent of the voters surveyed "strongly" or "somewhat" approve of the tea party movement, 37 percent dissaprove and 28 percent had no opinion or had not heard of the tea party.

The survey asked several questions related to race, immigration and gay rights.

For example, the survey asked voters if they support the law in Arizona that "requires police to question people they suspect are illegal immigrants for proof of legal status." The poll found 88 percent of voters who "strongly approve" of the tea party also support the Arizona law, compared to 52 percent of all voters surveyed.

Also, 52 percent of strong tea party supporters agreed with the statement that "compared to the size of their group, lesbians and gays have too much political power," compared to 25 percent of all voters surveyed.

The poll found 19 percent of all voters surveyed "strongly approve" of the tea party.

Barreto, citing a recent New York Times poll that found most tea party supporters approved of government spending for Social Security and Medicare, and research by fellow UW professor Christopher Parker, concludes "The tea party movement is not just about small government or frustration. It's (also) about a very specific frustration with government resources being used on minorities and gays and lesbians and people who are more diverse."

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

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Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
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Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

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Bob Young
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