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Are Donald Trump and his fellow 'birthers' racist?

Donald Trump faces a backlash from those who see the “birther” movement as a new form of racism, which a new study seems to confirm. Trump has problems with conservatives too.

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“Many in the media have speculated that current criticisms of Obama are a result of his race, rather than his agenda,” the study concluded. “We believe that the current results are an empirical demonstration that this is sadly the case.”

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As analyzed by psychologist Jack Brigham of Florida State University, an expert in racial attitudes research who was not part of the study, "the results strongly support a role of racism in the birther movement,” he told USA Today.

At this point very early in the game, Trump may be the frontrunner among Republican presidential hopefuls – which means he’s still the pick of only 19 percent of GOP primary voters compared to 17 percent for Mitt Romney and 15 percent for Mike Huckabee.

But there’s very little likelihood that Trump could win the nomination, let alone the election. According to Gallup this week, 64 percent of registered voters polled (including nearly half of all Republicans) say they would “definitely” not vote for him.

Trump carries a lot of political baggage.

Much of the billionaire real estate developer and casino mogul’s product line is made in China – not great for someone who says he’d fight to keep jobs in the United States. (He says it’s China’s fault because of currency manipulation.)

Questions have been raised about his avoidance of military service during the Vietnam War, and about the way he treated some small property owners in building his casinos.

Tea party wary of Trump

He’s given campaign contributions to prominent Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and ethically-challenged Rep. Charles Rangel of New York – a fact pointed out in New Hampshire this week by Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, who was nominated with tea party support last year over the establishment GOP pick.

Referring to Trump’s bluster about forcing oil-producing countries to lower prices, the New York Times quoted Paul telling reporters: “He’s always complaining about the president’s education. What economic school teaches you that you can have a bully for a president who sets the prices by just telling countries what price they should charge?”

“That to me shows an economic simplicity that really may not be equivalent to the stature of being president,” Paul added.

Trump may dazzle some Obama opponents with his birtherism, but conservatives have started to speak out about his political past.

“If you look at his actions, if you look at his positions on every core fiscal issue that matters to tea party conservatives, whether it’s the auto bailout, the TARP bailout, and health care … Donald Trump has built his entire empire in defiance of key tea party principles,” conservative columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin told Fox and Friends Thursday.

“It’s time for the tea party conservatives to get serious," she said. "This is the one thing I agree on with President Obama. It’s time to get serious.”

IN PICTURES: The Donald who would be king

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