Political Behavior

, 28:129 | Cite as

“Racial Threat”, Partisan Climate, and Direct Democracy: Contextual Effects in Three California Initiatives

Original Paper

Abstract

Does context—racial, economic, fiscal, and political—affect whites’ votes on racially-related ballot propositions? We examine non-Hispanic whites’ voting behavior on three California ballot initiatives: Propositions 187, 209, and 227. Unlike previous analyses that lacked individual-level data and were therefore limited to ecological inference, we combine individual-level data from exit polls with county-level contextual variables in a hierarchical linear model. Racial/ethnic context affected whites’ votes only on Proposition 187, economic context had no influence on vote choice, and the effect of fiscal context was limited to Proposition 227. However, across the propositions, whites’ decisions were shaped by their political context. Thus, we do not find support for the “racial threat” hypothesis across all racially-charged issues.

Keywords

Context effects Racial threat Direct democracy Multi-level modeling California politics 

References

  1. Alesina, A., & La Ferrara, E. (2000). Participation in heterogeneous communities. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 847–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. NY: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  3. Amir, Y. (1969). Contact hypothesis in ethnic relations. Psychological Bulletin, 71, 319–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck, P. A. (1974). Environment and party: The impact of political and demographic county characteristics on party behavior. American Political Science Review, 63, 1229–1244.Google Scholar
  5. Blalock, H. M. (1967). Towards a theory of minority group relations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Blumer, H. (1958). Race prejudice as a sense of group position. Pacific Sociological Review, 23, 3–7.Google Scholar
  7. Bobo, L., & Hutchings, V. L. (1996). Perceptions of racial group competition: Extending Blumer’s theory of group position to a multiracial social context. American Sociological Review, 61, 951–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonacich, E. (1972). A theory of ethnic antagonism. American Sociological Review, 77, 547–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Borjas, G. J. (1990). Friends or strangers: The impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Branton, R. P. (2003). Examining individual-level voting behavior on state ballot propositions. Political Research Quarterly, 56, 367–377.Google Scholar
  11. Branton, R. P., & Jones, B. S. (2001). Racial and ethnic heterogeneity and competition in House elections. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, R. (1986). Social psychology (2nd edn.). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Cain, B. E., MacDonald, K., & McCue, K. F. (1996). Nativism, partisanship and immigration: An analysis of Prop 187. Paper presented at the 1996 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August 29–September 1.Google Scholar
  14. Cain, B. E., MacDonald, K., & McCue, K. F. (1997). Race, ethnicity, and affirmative action: The impact of 209 on presidential voting. Paper presented at the 1997 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., August 28–31.Google Scholar
  15. Cain, B., Citrin, J., & Wong, C. (2000). Ethnic context, race relations, and California politics. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California.Google Scholar
  16. California Secretary of State. (1994). Statement of the Vote.Google Scholar
  17. California Secretary of State. (1996). Statement of the Vote.Google Scholar
  18. California Secretary of State. (1998). Statement of the Vote.Google Scholar
  19. Campbell, D. E. (2002). Getting along versus getting ahead: Contextual influences on motivations for collective action. Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  20. Carmines, E. G., & Stimson, J. A. (1989). Issue evolution: Race and the transformation of American politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Carsey, T. M. (1995). The contextual effects of race on white voter behavior: The 1989 New York City mayoral election. The Journal of Politics, 57, 221–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chavez, L. (1998). The color bind: California’s battle to end affirmative action. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. Citrin, J., Campbell, A. L. (1997). Immigration: California tomorrow. In G. C. Lubenow & B. E. Cain (Eds.), Governing California: Politics, government and public policy in the golden state (pp. 267–301). Berkeley, CA: IGS Press.Google Scholar
  24. Citrin, J., Green, D. P., Muste, C., & Wong, C. (1997). Public opinion toward immigration reform: The role of economic motivations. The Journal of Politics, 59, 858–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Citrin, J., Reingold, B., & Green, D. P. (1990). American identity and the politics of ethnic change. The Journal of Politics, 52, 1124–1154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Decker, C. (1998). Showdown for Davis, Lungren. Los Angeles Times, June 3, A1.Google Scholar
  27. Espenshade, T. J., & Calhoun, C. A. (1993). An analysis of public opinion toward undocumented immigration. Population Research and Policy Review, 13, 189–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fossett, M. A., & Kiecolt, K. J. (1989). The relative size of minority populations and white racial attitudes. Social Science Quarterly, 70, 820–835.Google Scholar
  29. Gerber, E. R. (1999). The populist paradox. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Giles, M. W., Dantico, M. (1982). Political participation and neighborhood social context revisited. American Journal of Political Science, 26, 144–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Giles, M. W., & Evans, A. S. (1985). External threat, perceived threat, and group identity. Social Science Quarterly, 66, 50–66.Google Scholar
  32. Glaser, J. (1994). Back to the black belt: Racial environment and white racial attitudes in the South. The Journal of Politics, 56, 21–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Glazer, N. (1997). Blacks only? Reform of affirmative action. The New Republic, 216, 25.Google Scholar
  34. Green, D. P., Strolovitch, D. Z., & Wong, J. S. (1998). Defended neighborhoods, integration, and racially motivated crime. The American Journal of Sociology, 104, 372–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gunnison, R. B. (1998). Poll finds rising support for bilingual proposition. San Francisco Chronicle, March 20.Google Scholar
  36. Higham, J. (1955). Strangers in the land: Patterns of American nativism 1869–1925. New York: Atheneum.Google Scholar
  37. Hood, M. V. III, & Morris, I. L. (2000). Brother, can you spare a dime? Racial/ethnic context and the Anglo vote on proposition 187. Social Science Quarterly, 81, 194–206.Google Scholar
  38. Hoskin, M., & Mishler, W. (1983). Public opinion toward new migrants. International Migration, 21, 440–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Huckfeldt, R. (1979). Political participation and neighborhood social context. American Journal of Political Science, 23, 579–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Huckfeldt, R., Beck, P. A., Dalton, R. J., & Levine, J. (1995). Political environments, cohesive social groups, and the communication of public opinion. American Journal of Political Science, 39, 1025–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Huckfeldt, R., Plutzer, E., & Sprague, J. (1993). Alternative contexts of political behavior: Churches, neighborhoods, and individuals. The Journal of Politics, 55, 365–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ingram, C. (1998). Wilson backs ballot measure to ban bilingual education. Los Angeles Times, May 19, A1.Google Scholar
  43. Jackman, M. (1994). The velvet glove: Paternalism and conflict in gender, class and race. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Key, V. O. (1984 [1949]). Southern politics in state and nation. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.Google Scholar
  45. Kinder, D. R., & Mendelberg, T. (1995). Cracks in American apartheid: The political impact of prejudice among desegregated whites. The Journal of Politics, 57, 402–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Knack, S., & Kropf, M. E. (1998). For shame! the effect of community cooperative context on the probability of voting. Political Psychology, 19, 585–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lesher, D. (1998). Governor candidates avoid bilingual education issue. Los Angeles Times, March 28.Google Scholar
  48. Levine, R. A., & Campbell, D. T. (1972). Ethnocentrism. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  49. Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  50. Magleby, D. B. (1984). Direct legislation: Voting on ballot propositions in the United States. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Maharidge, D. (1996). The coming white minority: California and America’s immigration debate. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  52. Navarrette, R. Jr. (1997). Bilingual-education initiative as a Prop 187 in disguise? Los Angeles Times, July 6.Google Scholar
  53. Oliver, J. E., & Mendelberg, T. (2000). Reconsidering the environmental determinants of white racial attitudes. American Journal of Political Science, 44, 574–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Oliver, J. E., & Wong, J. (2003). Intergroup prejudice in multiethnic settings. American Journal of Political Science, 47, 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pettigrew, T. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 65–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Popkin, S. (1994). The reasoning voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  57. Quillian, L. (1995). Prejudice as a response to perceived group threat: Population composition and anti-immigrant and racial prejudice in Europe. American Sociological Review, 60, 586–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Quillian, L. (1996). Group threat and regional change in attitudes toward African-Americans. The American Journal of Sociology, 102, 816–860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd edn.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.Google Scholar
  60. Rice, C. (1997). Toward affirmative reaction: California’s prop 209 failed as a racial wedge issue—but here’s what it means. Nation, 264, 22–24.Google Scholar
  61. Schrag, P. (1995). Son of 187. The New Republic, 212, 16–17.Google Scholar
  62. Schrag, P. (1998). Paradise lost: California’s experience, America’s future. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  63. Sears, D. O., & Citrin, J. (1982). Tax revolt. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Sears, D. O., Citrin, J., Cheleden, S. V., & van Laar, C. (1999). Cultural diversity and multicultural politics: Is ethnic balkanization psychologically inevitable? In D. A. Prentice & D. T. Miller (Eds.), Cultural divides: Understanding and overcoming group conflict (pp. 35–79). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  65. Sherif, M., & Sherif, C. (1953). Groups in harmony and tension: An integration of studies on intergroup relations. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  66. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (1999). Social dominance: An intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Sigelman, L., & Welch, S. (1993). The contact hypothesis revisited: Interracial contact and positive racial attitudes. Social Forces, 71, 781–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Simon, J. S. (1980). What immigrants take from and give to the public coffers. Final Report to the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  69. Slater, C. M., & Hall, G. E. (1996). 1996 County and city extra: Annual metro, city and county data book. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press.Google Scholar
  70. State of California. Labor Market Information Division, Employment Development Department. (1999). State of the state’s labor markets June 1999. www.calmis.cahwnet.gov/htmlfile/programs/StateoftheStatesLM.pdf.Google Scholar
  71. Steeh, C., & Krysan, M. (1996). Trends: Affirmative action and the public, 1970–1995. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60, 128–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Taylor, M. C. (1998). How white attitudes vary with the racial composition of local populations: Numbers count. American Sociological Review, 63, 512–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tolbert, C. J., & Grummel, J. A. (2003). Revisiting the racial threat hypothesis: White voter support for California’s Proposition 209. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, 3, 183–202.Google Scholar
  74. Tolbert, C. J., & Hero, R. E. (1996). Race/ethnicity and direct democracy: An analysis of California’s illegal immigration initiative. The Journal of Politics, 58, 806–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Tolbert, C. J., & Hero, R. E. (2001). Dealing with diversity: Racial/ethnic context and social policy change. Political Research Quarterly, 54, 571–604.Google Scholar
  76. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1983). County and city data book, 1983. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  77. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1994). County and city data book, 1994. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  78. Wright, G. C. (1977). Contextual models of electoral behavior: The Southern Wallace vote. American Political Science Review, 71, 497–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Louise Campbell
    • 1
  • Cara Wong
    • 2
  • Jack Citrin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations