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Radical Right 'Leaner and Meaner,' Civil Rights Group Says

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Tuesday released its annual count of hate groups and extremists in the United States, reporting a decline in numbers but a "leaner and meaner" movement.

The SPLC found found that far-right extremist groups fell significantly for the first time in a decade, by 19 percent.

Those would be groups like the anti-government "Patriot" movement, composed of armed militias, "sovereign citizens," and other conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their enemy.

According to the SPLC, the president's 2012 re-election — unexpected by many on the right — appears to have drained energy from the movement. The group cites other factors that are contributing to the decline such as an improving economy, crackdowns by law enforcement, and the adoption of far-right issues by mainstream politicians.

But the SPLC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, said the number of radical right groups still remains at an historically high level, with more than 2,000 groups across the country.

"The radical right is growing leaner and meaner," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC and the editor of the report. "The numbers are down somewhat, but the potential for violence remains high.

"Moreover, there is a disturbing dynamic at play. At the same time that the number of extremist groups is dropping, there is more mainstream acceptance of radical-right ideas."

The number of hate groups also declined by 7 percent, down to 939 in 2013.

The hate groups include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other hate groups on the list target LGBT people, Muslims or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.

California, Florida and Texas lead the way for hate groups.

— Mike Kosnar