Race, Ideology, and the Tea Party: A Longitudinal Study

Eric D. Knowles, Brian S. Lowery, Elizabeth P. Shulman, Rebecca L. Schaumberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Tea Party movement, which rose to prominence in the United States after the election of President Barack Obama, provides an ideal context in which to examine the roles of racial concerns and ideology in politics. A three-wave longitudinal study tracked changes in White Americans' self-identification with the Tea Party, racial concerns (prejudice and racial identification), and ideologies (libertarianism and social conservatism) over nine months. Latent Growth Modeling (LGM) was used to evaluate potential causal relationships between Tea Party identification and these factors. Across time points, racial prejudice was indirectly associated with movement identification through Whites' assertions of national decline. Although initial levels of White identity did not predict change in Tea Party identification, initial levels of Tea Party identification predicted increases in White identity over the study period. Across the three assessments, support for the Tea Party fell among libertarians, but rose among social conservatives. Results are discussed in terms of legitimation theories of prejudice, the "racializing" power of political judgments, and the ideological dynamics of the Tea Party.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere67110
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 25 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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