Political Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 197–222 | Cite as

Do White In-group Processes Matter, Too? White Racial Identity and Support for Black Political Candidates

  • Gregory A. PetrowEmail author
  • John E. Transue
  • Timothy Vercellotti
Original Paper


Scholars find that negative evaluations of Blacks lead Whites to vote against Black political candidates. However, can an in-group psychological process have the same effect? We consider White racial identity to be a strong candidate for such a process. We argue that the mere presence of a Black candidate cues the identity, reducing support for these candidates among Whites. We test this hypothesis on vote choice in seven instances. Five of them involve simple vote choice models: the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections, and three elections in 2010: The Massachusetts Gubernatorial election, Black candidates for the US House, and Black candidates for the US Senate. The other two are tests of the notion that White racial identity reduced President Obama’s approval, thus reducing support for all Democratic Congressional candidates in the 2010 Midterm and 2012 Congressional elections. We find support for these notions in all seven cases, across these seven elections, using four different survey research datasets, and four different measures of White identity. Comparisons with other presidential elections show that White identity did not significantly affect mono-racial elections. Furthermore, we find the White identity and racial resentment results to be very similar in terms of their robustness and apparent effect sizes. This indicates in-group evaluations, and those that focus on out-groups, operate independently of one another.


Vote choice White racial identity Prejudice Racial Resentment Barack Obama Race and elections Presidential approval Social identity 

Supplementary material

11109_2017_9422_MOESM1_ESM.docx (611 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Nebraska OmahaOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy StudiesUniversity of Illinois SpringfieldSpringfieldUSA
  3. 3.Department of History and Political ScienceWestern New England UniversitySpringfieldUSA

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