Bringing Race Back In

Bringing Race Back In: Black Politicians, Deracialization, and Voting Behavior in the Age of Obama

Christopher T. Stout
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1rfc
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  • Book Info
    Bringing Race Back In
    Book Description:

    Bringing Race Back Inempirically investigates whether "post-racial" campaign strategies, which are becoming increasingly common, improve black candidates' ability to mobilize and attract voters of all races and ethnicities. In contrast to existing studies, this analysis demonstrates that black candidates who make positive racial appeals (for example, racial appeals that indicate that the candidate will either advance black policy interests or highlight the candidate's connection to the black community without attacking outside political players) not only perform better among blacks; they also improve their standing among Latino voters. Moreover, these appeals do not diminish white voter support. This finding counters conventional wisdom, which suggests that black candidates can succeed in majority white settings only if they distance themselves from the black electorate.

    Following President Barack Obama's 2008 success, both scholars and the popular media began examining how black candidates address race and racial issues in their campaigns, and scholars and journalists are now exploring whether black voters rally around black candidates who fail to discuss racial issues or who distance themselves from the black community.Bringing Race Back Inaddresses these issues by using a wide variety of data sources and a number of sophisticated statistical techniques. The study utilizes content analysis of over two thousand newspaper articles on over thirty presidential, U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial elections with African American candidates, in combination with quantitative analysis of state exit polls and U.S. Census voter surveys. In addition to its significant contribution to the scholarship on American politics, African American studies, campaigns and elections, and public opinion, the book also provides valuable insight for political practitioners who want to better understand how deracialized campaigns influence the electability of black candidates in the age of Obama.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3669-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    In a February 2012 interview withEbonymagazine, African American actor Samuel L. Jackson proffered a theory on black political behavior: “I voted for Barack because he was black [and] that’s why other folks vote for other people, because they look like them…. That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean [anything] to me.”¹ While the comment was impetuous, the essence of the statement rings true for many political pundits and politicians: black voters are much more likely to support a black candidate than a white candidate, regardless of the candidate’s message or political affiliation.

    Historically, the assumption...

  5. 1 What Are My Choices? THE GROWING DIVERSITY IN HIGH-PROFILE STATEWIDE BLACK CANDIDATES
    (pp. 25-38)

    In 2004, two major party African American candidates competed for Illinois’s U.S. Senate seat. The Democratic nominee was Barack Obama, who ran a campaign that was celebrated for its ability to reach across the aisle. In endorsing Obama, the SpringfieldState-Journal Registernoted that “Obama receives our support for many reasons, but one of the most striking differences between these candidates comes down to inclusiveness versus exclusiveness. Obama represents the former.”¹ One viewer of the 2004 Democratic National Convention praised Obama for his centrist appeal. “I watched a little of the convention … and was unimpressed with most of the...

  6. 2 Black Candidates and Voter Turnout: DOES RACIALIZATION MATTER?
    (pp. 39-54)

    Political pundits, candidates, and casual political observers often argue that the presence of a black candidate increases black voter turnout. Even President Barack Obama voiced this belief as he declared in 2007: “I guarantee you, African American turnout, if I’m the nominee, goes up 30 percent around the country, minimum.”¹ LikewiseNew York Timescontributor Gerald Benjamin stated in 2002, “If Carl McCall wins in the primary he will be the first major-party African-American nominee for governor of New York, offering New Yorkers a chance to make history. For that reason alone, his nomination is likely to increase turnout among...

  7. 3 Racializing and Winning Elections: HOW VOTERS RESPOND TO NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE RACIAL APPEALS
    (pp. 55-71)

    In the 1990 South Carolina gubernatorial election, black Democrat Theo Mitchell highlighted why his election to the governor’s mansion would benefit black voters. He argued that, if he were elected, blacks would no longer play second fiddle to rich white voters in the state. Mitchell also promised that he would raise some taxes to increase education, social, and health spending to address racial and social inequities in South Carolina.¹ While Mitchell made many positive appeals to black voters, he also made a number of racially divisive statements. In particular, he used offensive language to chastise black leaders who supported his...

  8. 4 The First Black President: A COMPARISON OF POLITICAL BEHAVIOR IN THE 1988 AND 2008 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES
    (pp. 72-83)

    In October 1987, Jesse Jackson announced that he would again seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Given that Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign had centered on racial issues and was marred by an instance where he used divisive rhetoric, expectations for his 1988 presidential bid were initially very low. However, Jackson changed his strategy in 1988. While his platform was still racial in nature, he focused on issues that were of concern to the black community but also had a broader populist appeal. In 1988, Jackson was no longer the quintessential racial protest candidate. Instead, he was one of several...

  9. 5 Positive and Negative Racial Appeals in Action: EXPLORING THE INFLUENCE OF RACIAL APPEALS AND POLITICAL BEHAVIOR OVER TIME
    (pp. 84-100)

    Chapters 3 and 4 demonstrate that when accounting for other factors, black candidates’ use of positive and/or negative racial appeals is associated with fluctuating levels of support among voters. However, less is known about whether the use of these racial appealschangesthese candidates’ electoral standing among blacks and other racial/ethnic groups. It is possible that there is something specific to black candidates who use racial appeals that are not being accounted for in the statistical models presented in the previous two chapters. As a result, social scientists, such as myself, may be mistakenly attributing positive and/or negative racialization to...

  10. 6 Who Cares? EXPLORING THE MECHANISMS BEHIND POSITIVE RACIAL APPEALS AND POLITICAL BEHAVIOR
    (pp. 101-112)

    In the previous chapters, I highlight two main reasons why blacks prefer candidates who make positive racial appeals more than their post-racial counterparts. First, blacks believe racialized black candidates are more likely to advance a racially progressive agenda in office. Second, black voters feel that racialized black candidates are more like them and in turn care about their needs. While the former is based on substantive policy, the latter represents a feeling of mutual understanding between the candidate and the voter. While previous studies thoroughly outline why voters respond negatively to racially divisive appeals,¹ less is known about why individuals,...

  11. Conclusion: A NECESSARY COMPROMISE?
    (pp. 113-126)

    Many expected Artur Davis, a rising star in the Democratic Party, to win the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor of Alabama. Davis was a black politician in the mold of Barack Obama. He was a Harvard Law School graduate and a respected member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Moreover, he took steps to demonstrate his independence from the black community in hopes of appealing to southern conservative white voters. In particular, Davis voted against the Affordable Care Act, criticized revered black congressman Charlie Rangel, and did not seek the endorsements of key black organizations in the state including the...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 127-140)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 141-152)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 153-164)
  15. Index
    (pp. 165-168)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 169-170)