Why Racist White Voters Often Favor Black Republicans

Can white voters who again a Black candidate nonetheless maintain racist beliefs and views?

That query has come to the fore within the wake of Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial victory within the blueish state of Virginia. Conservatives had been fast to counter claims that Youngkin’s win represented the effectiveness of stoking racial fears with outcomes from Virginia’s down-ballot election for lieutenant governor — a contest the place the Republican candidate, Winsome Sears, made historical past by turning into the primary Black girl elected to statewide workplace in Virginia. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, for instance, emphatically mocked the notion that “voters called white supremacists elected a Black Lt. Gov.” Conservative commentators on Fox News and Twitter, together with Sears herself, additionally used the historic victory as an ostensible defend towards accusations of Republican racism.

But supporting a Black candidate hardly precludes voters from harboring racist beliefs and motivations. Republicans are increasingly more likely than Democrats to carry prejudiced views of minorities, so Black Republicans like Sears typically draw particularly sturdy help from white Americans with in any other case anti-Black views just because they draw most of their help from Republican voters.

A transparent instance of this was within the 2016 Republican presidential major, when Ben Carson made a bid to change into the GOP’s first African American presidential nominee. Support for Carson was positively correlated with the idea that Black Americans have an excessive amount of affect on U.S. politics, based on knowledge from Washington University in St. Louis’s American Panel Survey (TAPS) in late 2015:

Whites who thought African Americans had “far too little” affect disliked Carson and most popular Hillary Clinton by 60 share factors in a hypothetical common election matchup. Meanwhile, Carson was extremely popular amongst whites who had been most involved about African Americans having “too much” affect in politics. So a lot in order that whites who thought African Americans have “far too much” affect most popular Carson to Clinton by 45 factors.   


Again, a lot of that relationship is all the way down to partisanship — Republicans usually tend to maintain prejudiced views and likewise extra prone to help a Republican candidate. But that’s the purpose: For many white GOP voters, anti-Black views don’t appear to get in the best way of supporting a Black Republican.

You can see an identical sample within the January 2016 American National Election Studies Pilot Study. Carson acquired extra favorable evaluations among the many sizable minority (40 %) of overtly prejudiced whites who agreed with the racist stereotype that “most African Americans are more violent than most whites.” This group rated Carson considerably extra favorably on a 0-100 scale than the white average Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush (52 to 39, respectively). Then-candidate Donald Trump was the one politician within the survey who was rated increased than Carson amongst overtly prejudiced whites.                

The distinction between how prejudiced whites rated Carson and Obama is relatively revealing, as properly. The sharp unfavorable relationship between help for Obama and the endorsement of anti-Black stereotypes is per several studies showing that prejudice was an unusually strong predictor of opposition to Obama from the 2008 election through the end of his presidency. These patterns additionally match properly with other political science research exhibiting that racially prejudiced whites are usually extra against Black Democrats than to white Democrats.          

To make sense of why racially prejudiced white Americans are keen to help some Black candidates, it’s price contemplating why they so strongly oppose Black Democrats within the first place. Given the racialized nature of the two-party system within the United States, most Black political candidates are Democrats who embrace liberal positions on problems with race and justice. When requested whether or not they would help such a candidate, research shows that racially prejudiced white voters fear that these candidates will signify the pursuits of Black Americans, each due to a shared African American id  and since Democrats are perceived as the party more supportive of Black interests. So, it is smart that racially resentful white Americans oppose candidates like Obama, as his racial id and partisanship signaled to voters that he was more supportive of Black interests than prior presidents. 


Put one other manner: Racially prejudiced white voters will not be against Black candidates just because they’re Black, however as a result of they imagine that the majority Black candidates will combat for “those people” and never “people like us.”

Black Republicans, alternatively, are perceived differently by racially prejudiced white Americans. Their embrace of the Republican Party and its conservative ideology assist guarantee racially prejudiced whites that, in contrast to Black Democrats, they aren’t within the enterprise of carrying water for their very own racial group. Instead, they’re seen as distinct from different Black elites. If Blackness is seen as intertwined with a sort of racial liberalism that’s antagonistic to the pursuits of white Americans, Black Republicans’ partisan and ideological commitments allay issues that they’re for “them,” not “us.”

This argument is buttressed by extra recent scholarship in political science, which has discovered that Black candidates who embrace a “bootstrap” ideology — an ideology that focuses on particular person versus structural explanations of inequality — are extra positively evaluated by racially prejudiced whites relative to their white rivals. Explaining this discovering, the authors observe that racially prejudiced white voters “might find black Republicans delivering an individualism message more favorable than they might find other candidates delivering a similar message precisely because the aesthetic character and the partisan affiliation of the messenger contradict racial and political expectations.” LaFleur Stephens-Dougan, a professor of political science at Princeton University, equally reveals in her guide “Race to the Bottom” that racially resentful whites reply properly to Black candidates who take stances towards the anticipated positions of their racial group — a phenomenon she calls “racial distancing.”

Finally, voting for Black Republicans can also be particularly interesting to racially prejudiced whites as a result of it assuages issues of being seen as racist by enabling them to say, in essence, “I can’t be racist! I voted for a Black candidate!” Psychologists name this “moral credentialing,” and there’s even some evidence that voters who expressed help for Obama shortly after the 2008 election felt extra justified in favoring white Americans over Black Americans. Electing a Black Republican like Sears, who railed against critical race theory in the course of the run-up to the election and supports voting restrictions that adversely affect racial minorities, is equally used as a symbolic defend by the whole social gathering from inevitable prices of championing racist insurance policies. As we talked about earlier, conservative media shops and politicians are already weaponizing her victory towards anybody who would dare recommend so.    


But, in fact, the function race and racism play in American politics is way more nuanced than these simplistic defenses recommend. When racially prejudiced whites oppose Black candidates, it’s not simply due to the candidate’s pores and skin shade. It’s additionally as a result of they understand (sometimes wrongly) that Black candidates, particularly Black Democrats, have ideological commitments which are at odds with the pursuits of white Americans. Likewise, when racially prejudiced whites help Black Republicans, it’s hardly the case that they’ve change into progressive on race. Racially prejudiced whites didn’t vote for Sears as a result of they appreciated her attachment and dedication to Black individuals. They had been keen to help her as a result of they discounted it. 

Race, in spite of everything, is a social assemble. It has which means as a result of we imbue it with which means. Racially prejudiced whites will not be hostile to Blackness, per se. They are hostile to a specific manifestation of Blackness — one which displays a dedication to racial justice and the development of the group’s collective objectives. Racially prejudiced whites will not be bothered a lot by a manifestation of Blackness that’s ideologically per their very own identities and attitudes. Why would they be? Sears’s conservative politics don’t threaten the racial hierarchy, and her candidacy supplies cowl for a celebration that’s typically antagonistic to racial minorities. For racially prejudiced whites, the actual query is what’s there not to like about Black politicians like Sears?               


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