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Old 02-26-2014, 12:26 PM   Topic Starter
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Are white voters becoming more Republican?

Sean Trende of RCP notes that white voters have become more Republican over time. http://www.centerforpolitics.org/cry...-white-voters/ A new study posted in Huffington Post yesterday notes psychological factors behind it:

Craig and Richeson decided to explore this idea empirically, to see if the likelihood of an increasingly diverse racial landscape influences the politics of white Americans, and if so, how.

They recruited a group of white Americans who identified themselves as independent and unaffiliated, and randomly assigned them to two groups. All of the respondents filled out survey forms, but the questions were slightly different for the two groups. Specifically, some respondents were asked if they had heard that California was now a majority-minority state. The others, the controls, were asked if they had heard that Hispanics were about equal in numbers to Blacks. All were then asked about their political ideology and which party they leaned toward.

The scientists wanted to see if the prospect of greater racial diversity nudged the white respondents to the right. It did, in both a national sample and (much more strongly) in a sample of western voters. These self-described independents also showed a slight shift toward conservative values, compared to controls. In short, those white Americans who were made aware of the country's racial shift did move toward more conservative politics -- especially when evidence of that racial shift came from their own region of the country.

These findings are compelling, but they do not illuminate just why such a political and ideological shift is taking place. Craig and Richeson wanted to drill down on the motives underlying this shift, in particular the notion that white Americans feel that their values and beliefs are being threatened. They also wanted to see if the whites' shift to the right involved only policies directly connected to race -- immigration reform, for example -- or if it was a broader ideological shift, encompassing military spending and other non-racial issues.

So in another experiment, some white Americans read a press release about projections of a majority-minority population in 2042. The controls read about increasing geographical mobility. Then all respondents answered questions about their perceptions of threat: Is the American way of life being threatened? Is the country on the right track? How do you feel about the nation's future? Is the status of white American in peril? And so forth. They then answered questions about various political issues, some (like affirmative action) related to race, and others (like health care reform) unrelated.

Again, the scientists found that those who were thinking about the changing racial landscape of the country -- these white Americans were more likely to endorse conservative policies. What's more, as described in a forthcoming article in the journal Psychological Science, this move to the right was clearly motivated by white fears of losing status. Intriguingly, the conservative shift affected both race-related policies and policies unconnected to race -- suggesting that psychological threat is capable of triggering a broad political shift....
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