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The Tea Party movement has dominated political discussion during the last couple of years.
How do Wyomingites view this movement and how do Tea Party adherents differ from those who are not? The 2010 Wyoming Statewide Election Survey provides answers to these questions.
Since 1972, the University of Wyoming's Political Science Department has conducted a survey of Wyoming voters before the November general elections. This year's survey was administered in October. Slightly more than 700 Wyoming residents were questioned by the University's Survey and Analysis Center.
When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the Tea Party movement, 51 percent of Wyomingites either strongly agreed or agreed.
What characterizes those Wyomingites positive to the Tea Party from those who are not? Not unexpectedly, a great difference centers around attitudes and beliefs about President Barack Obama.
Ninety-five percent of the Tea Party adherents believe the president is doing only a fair or poor job compared to the 30 percent of non-Tea Party adherents.
Another substantial difference lies with beliefs about a couple of the president's characteristics. Thirty-five percent of the Tea Party positives believe President Obama is a Muslim, while only 4 percent of the anti-Tea party group believe he is a Muslim. Moreover, 40 percent of the Tea Party group believe Obama was not born in the United States compared to 5 percent of the anti-Tea Party group.
Not unexpectedly, overwhelmingly those favorable (67 percent) to the Tea Party identify with the Republican Party. Only 13 percent of the anti-Tea Party identify with the GOP.
Disdain for the federal government is a national theme of the Tea Party and is reflected in the Wyoming counterparts. One-third of this group believes the federal government can be trusted none of the time and over nine out of 10 believe the federal government wastes a lot of money.
Finally, when asked if federal government officials understand the views of Americans, 84 percent said the government did not, a far larger percentage than those not favorable to the Tea Party.
The condition of the national economy is also a major difference. Seven out of 10 Tea Party supporters believe the economy has gotten worse over the past year compared to one in four non-supporters.
Perception of the health care bill passed by Congress last spring is another major difference between the two groups. Ninety-two percent of Tea Party adherents believe the bill should be repealed compared to 15 percent of those not favorable to the Tea Party.
Debate about the status of illegal immigrants was also a key issue in the campaign. Here, 90 percent of those favorable to the Tea Party think immigrants cost taxpayer money rather than being productive residents compared to 49 percent of those who not agree with the movement.
Another substantial difference between the groups centers around global warming. Eighty-five percent of the Tea Party group believes global warming has been exaggerated compared to 28 percent of those who are not favorable to the movement.
Finally, the two groups derive their major sources of political information differently. Television was the main source of information for the Tea Party group, while newspapers were the main source for those who were not favorable to the Tea Party.