Advertisement

Why are African American Governors and U.S. Senators so Rare? Exploring White Voters’ Responses to African American Statewide Candidates

  • Matthew Tokeshi
Original Paper

Abstract

Despite making notable gains at the local level, very few African Americans have been elected to the high-profile statewide offices of governor or U.S. senator. Previous research offers little systematic evidence on the role of racial prejudice in the campaigns of African Americans trying to reach these offices for the first time. In this paper, I introduce a new data set designed to test whether African American candidates for these offices are penalized due to their race. Comparing all 24 African American challengers (non-incumbents) from 2000 to 2014 to white challengers from the same party running in the same state for the same office around the same time, I find that white challengers are about three times more likely to win and receive about 13 percentage points more support among white voters. These estimates hold when controlling for a number of potential confounding factors and when employing several statistical matching estimators. The results conflict with earlier studies that focus on a single gubernatorial contest or elections at the U.S. House level.

Keywords

Race and elections White voters African American candidates Statewide candidates 

Supplementary material

11109_2018_9496_MOESM1_ESM.docx (62 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 61 kb)

References

  1. Adams, J., & Kenny, L. (1989). The retention of state governors. Public Choice, 62, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banks, A. J. (2013). The public’s anger: White racial attitudes and opinions toward health care reform. Political Behavior, 36(3), 493–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks, A. J., & Bell, M. A. (2013). Racialized campaign ads: The emotional content in implicit racial appeals primes white racial attitudes. Public Opinion Quarterly, 77(2), 549–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barreto, M. A. (2007). ¡Sí Se Puede! Latino candidates and the mobilization of latino voters. American Political Science Review, 101(3), 425–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barreto, M. A., Reny, T., & Wilcox-Archuleta, B. (2017). Survey methodology and the latina/o vote: Why a bilingual, bicultural, latino-centered approach matters. Atzlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, 42(2), 209–225.Google Scholar
  6. Becker, J. F., & Heaton, E. E., Jr. (1967). The election of senator Edward W. Brooke. Public Opinion Quarterly, 31, 346–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bennett, R., & Wiseman, C. (1991). Economic performance and U.S. senate elections, 1958–1986. Public Choice, 69, 93–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berinsky, A. J., Hutchings, V. L., Mendelberg, T., Shaker, L., & Valentino, N. A. (2010). Sex and race: Are black candidates more likely to be disadvantaged by sex scandals? Political Behavior, 33(2), 179–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonica, A. (2016). Database on ideology, money in politics, and elections: Public version 2.0. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries. http://data.stanford.edu/dime. Accessed 24 July 2017.
  10. Brown-Dean, K., Hajnal, Z., Rivers, C., & White, I. (2015). 50 years of the voting rights act: The state of race in politics. Washington, DC: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.Google Scholar
  11. Browning, R. P., Marshall, D. R., & Tabb, D. H. (1997). Racial politics in American cities, VII. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  12. Bullock, C. S. (2000). Partisan changes in the Southern congressional delegation and the consequences. In D. W. Brady, J. F. Cogan, & M. Fiorina (Eds.), Continuity and change in house elections (pp. 39–64). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Bullock, C. S., & Dunn, R. E. (1999). The demise of racial districting and the future of black representation. Emory Law Journal, 48(4), 1209–1253.Google Scholar
  14. Ceaser, J. W., & Saldin, R. P. (2005). A new measure of party strength. Political Research Quarterly, 58(2), 245–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chubb, J. (1988). Institutions, the economy, and the dynamics of state elections. American Political Science Review, 82, 133–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Citrin, J., Green, D. P., & Sears, D. O. (1990). White reactions to black candidates: When does race matter? Public Opinion Quarterly, 54, 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Franklin, S. (2010). Situational deracialization, Harold Ford, and the 2006 U.S. senate race in Tennessee. In A. Gillespie (Ed.), Whose black politics? Cases in post-racial black leadership (pp. 214–240). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Frederick, K. A., & Jeffries, J. L. (2009). A study in African American candidates for high-profile statewide office. Journal of Black Studies, 39, 689–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freedman, D. A. (1999). Ecological inference and the ecological fallacy. In N. Smelser & P. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences (pp. 4027–4030). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  20. Gerber, A. (1996). African Americans’ congressional careers and the democratic house delegation. Journal of Politics, 58(3), 831–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goldman, S. K., & Mutz, D. C. (2014). The Obama effect: How the 2008 CAMPAIGN CHANGED WHITE ATTITUDES. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  22. Hajnal, Z. (2007). Changing white attitudes toward black political leadership. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hibbing, J., & Alford, J. (1982). Economic conditions and the forgotten side of congress: A Foray into U.S. Senate elections. American Journal of Political Science, 12, 505–516.Google Scholar
  24. Highton, B. (2004). White voters and African American candidates for congress. Political Behavior, 26(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ho, D. E., Imai, K., King, G., & Stuart, E. A. (2007). Matching as nonparametric preprocessing for reducing model dependence in parametric causal inference. Political Analysis, 15(3), 199–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ho, D. E., Imai, K., King, G., & Stuart, E. A. (2011). Matchit: Nonparametric preprocessing for parametric causal inference. Journal of Statistical Software, 42(8), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hopkins, D. J. (2009). No more wilder effect, never a whitman effect: When and why polls mislead about black and female candidates. Journal of Politics, 71(3), 769–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jacobson, G. C. (2012). The politics of congressional elections (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  29. Jacobson, G. C., & Kernell, S. (1981). Strategy and choice in congressional elections. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jeffries, J. L., & Jones, C. E. (2006). Blacks who run for governor and the U.S. Senate: An examination of their candidacies. Negro Educational Review, 57(3–4), 243–265.Google Scholar
  31. Johnson, G., Oppenheimer, B. I., & Selin, J. L. (2012). The house as a stepping stone to the senate: Why do so few African American house members run? American Journal of Political Science, 56(2), 387–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kinder, D. R., & Dale-Riddle, A. (2012). The end of race? Obama, 2008, and racial politics in America. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Kinder, D. R., & Sanders, L. (1996). Divided by color. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Kinder, D. R., & Sears, D. O. (1981). Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40(3), 414–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. King, G. (1997). A solution to the ecological inference problem. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. King, G., Rosen, O., Tanner, M., & Wagner, A. F. (2008). Ordinary economic voting behavior in the extraordinary election of Adolf Hitler. Journal of Economic History, 68(4), 951–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Krasno, J. S., & Green, D. P. (1988). Preempting quality challengers in house elections. Journal of Politics, 50, 920–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kulich, C., Ryan, M. K., & Haslam, S. A. (2014). The political glass Cliff: Understanding how seat selection contributes to the underperformance of ethnic minority candidates. Political Research Quarterly, 67(1), 84–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Levernier, W. (1992). The effect of relative economic performance on the outcome of gubernatorial elections. Public Choice, 74, 181–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lewis, A. K. (2009). Making history, again, so soon? The Massachusetts Gubernatorial election. In G. A. Persons (Ed.), Beyond the boundaries: A new structure of ambition in African American politics (pp. 7–22). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  41. Lewis-Beck, M. S., Tien, C., & Nadeau, R. (2010). Obama’s missed landslide: A racial cost? PS: Political Science and Politics, 43(1), 69–76.Google Scholar
  42. Mas, A., Moretti, E., & Nadeau, R. (2009). Racial bias in the 2008 presidential election. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 99(2), 323–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McDermott, M. L. (1998). Race and gender cues in low-information elections. Political Research Quarterly, 51(4), 895–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McIlwain, C. D., & Caliendo, S. M. (2011). Race appeal: How candidates invoke race in U.S. political campaigns. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Mendelberg, T. (2001). The race card: campaign strategy, implicit messages, and the norm of equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moskowitz, D., & Stroh, P. (1994). Psychological sources of electoral racism. Political Psychology, 15(2), 307–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Niemi, R., Stanley, H., & Vogel, R. (1995). State economies and state taxes: Do voters hold governors accountable? American Journal of Political Science, 39, 936–957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Orey, B. D. (2009). Racial threat, republicanism, and the rebel flag: Trent Lott and the 2006 Mississippi Senate Race. National Political Science Review, 12, 83–96.Google Scholar
  49. Peltzman, S. (1987). Economic conditions and gubernatorial elections. American Economic Review, 7, 293–297.Google Scholar
  50. Perry, H. L. (1991). Deracialization as an analytical construct in American politics. Urban Affairs Quarterly, 27(2), 181–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Piston, S. (2010). How explicit prejudice hurt Obama in the 2008 election. Political Behavior, 32(4), 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (1997). Congress: A political-economic history of roll call voting. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Reeves, K. (1997). Voting hopes or fears? White voters, black candidates, and racial politics in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Schuman, H., Steeh, C., Bobo, L., & Krysan, M. (1997). Racial attitudes in America: Trends and interpretations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Shor, B., & McCarty, N. (2011). The Ideological mapping of American legislatures. American Political Science Review, 105(3), 530–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sigelman, C. K., Sigelman, L., Walkosz, B. J., & Nitz, M. (1995). Black candidates, white voters: Understanding racial bias in political perceptions. American Journal of Political Science, 39(1), 243–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sniderman, P. M., & Piazza, T. (1993). The scar of race. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Sniderman, P. M., & Stiglitz, E. H. (2008). Race and the moral character of the modern American experience. Forum, 6(4), 1.Google Scholar
  59. Sonenshein, R. J. (1990). Can black candidates win statewide elections? Political Science Quarterly, 105(2), 219–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2014). The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using google search data. Journal of Public Economics, 118, 26–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Terkildsen, N. (1993). When white voters evaluate black candidates: The processing implications of candidate skin color, prejudice, and self-monitoring. American Journal of Political Science, 37(4), 1032–1053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tesler, M. (2012). The spillover of racialization into health care: How President Obama polarized public opinion by racial attitudes and race. American Journal of Political Science, 56(3), 690–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tesler, M. (2016). Post-racial or most racial? Race and politics in the Obama Era. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tesler, M., & Sears, D. O. (2010). Obama’s race: The 2008 election and the dream of a post-racial America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Thernstrom, S., & Thernstrom, A. (1997). America in black and white: One Nation, indivisible. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  66. Tokeshi, M., & Mendelberg, T. (2015). Countering implicit racial appeals: which strategies work? Political Communication, 32(4), 648–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Valentino, N. A., Hutchings, V. L., & White, I. K. (2002). Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review, 96(1), 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Voss, S. D., & Lublin, D. (2001). Black incumbents, white Districts: An appraisal of the 1996 congressional elections. American Politics Research, 29(2), 141–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Weaver, V. M. (2012). The electoral consequences of skin color: The “hidden” side of race in politics. Political Behavior, 34(1), 159–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. White, I. K. (2007). When race matters and when it doesn’t: Racial group differences in response to racial cues. American Political Science Review, 101(2), 339–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Williams, L. F. (1990). White/black perceptions of the electability of black political candidates. National Black Political Science Review, 2, 45–64.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Williams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

Personalised recommendations