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In-Group Love and Out-Group Hate: White Racial Attitudes in Contemporary U.S. Elections

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Over the past two decades, political scientists have demonstrated that racial animus among white Americans is increasingly associated with evaluations of presidential candidates. Like most work on white racial attitudes, these efforts have focused almost exclusively on the out-group attitudes whites possess toward racial and ethnic minorities. Work in social psychology, however, suggests that intergroup attitudes are usually comprised of both an out-group and an in-group component. Nevertheless, political scientists have tended to overlook or dismiss the possibility that whites’ in-group attitudes are associated with political evaluations. Changing demographic patterns, immigration, the historic election of Obama, and new candidate efforts to appeal to whites as a collective group suggest a need to reconsider the full nature and consequences of the racial attitudes that may influence whites’ electoral preferences. This study, therefore, examines the extent to which both white out-group racial resentment and white in-group racial identity matter in contemporary electoral politics. Comparing the factors associated with vote choice in 2012 and 2016, and candidate evaluations in 2018, this study finds that both attitudes were powerfully associated with candidate evaluations in 2012 and early 2016, although white out-group attitudes overshadowed the electoral impact of in-group racial attitudes by the 2016 general election. The results suggest that there are now two independent racial attitudes tied to whites’ political preferences in the contemporary U.S., and understanding the dynamics of white racial animus and white racial identity across electoral contexts continues to be an important avenue for future work.
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Vol.:(0123456789)
Political Behavior (2021) 43:1535–1559
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-020-09600-x
1 3
ORIGINAL PAPER
In‑Group Love andOut‑Group Hate: White Racial Attitudes
inContemporary U.S. Elections
AshleyJardina1
Published online: 3 March 2020
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020
Abstract
Over the past two decades, political scientists have demonstrated that racial ani-
mus among white Americans is increasingly associated with evaluations of presi-
dential candidates. Like most work on white racial attitudes, these efforts have
focused almost exclusively on the out-group attitudes whites possess toward racial
and ethnic minorities. Work in social psychology, however, suggests that intergroup
attitudes are usually comprised of both an out-group and an in-group component.
Nevertheless, political scientists have tended to overlook or dismiss the possibility
that whites’ in-group attitudes are associated with political evaluations. Changing
demographic patterns, immigration, the historic election of Obama, and new can-
didate efforts to appeal to whites as a collective group suggest a need to recon-
sider the full nature and consequences of the racial attitudes that may influence
whites’ electoral preferences. This study, therefore, examines the extent to which
both white out-group racial resentment and white in-group racial identity matter in
contemporary electoral politics. Comparing the factors associated with vote choice
in 2012 and 2016, and candidate evaluations in 2018, this study finds that both
attitudes were powerfully associated with candidate evaluations in 2012 and early
2016, although white out-group attitudes overshadowed the electoral impact of in-
group racial attitudes by the 2016 general election. The results suggest that there
are now two independent racial attitudes tied to whites’ political preferences in the
contemporary U.S., and understanding the dynamics of white racial animus and
white racial identity across electoral contexts continues to be an important avenue
for future work.
Keywords Intergroup dynamics· Racial resentment· White racial identity· U.S.
electoral politics
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1110
9-020-09600 -x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Ashley Jardina
ashley.jardina@duke.edu
1 Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... However, we do expect white identity will be linked with conservative attitudes on immigration because of the perception that restricting immigration will benefit white Americans. Finally, we expect that an increase in white identity will lead to a positive association in voting for the Republican presidential candidate (Jardina 2020). ...
... While white identity is meaningful in certain contexts, even when modeled together, whites' racial resentment is still a consistently strong predictor of political behavior (Jardina 2020). We continue this line of research by comparing racial resentment and white identity within the evangelical context. ...
... We measure Black identity and white identity through identity centrality, which is measured through an individual's response to the question, "How important is being Black/ white to your identity?" (Hooper 1976;Jardina 2020). Responses vary from "Not at all important" (0) to "Extremely Important" (4). ...
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... We answer these questions using data collected as part of the Canadian Election Studies (CES) 2019 (Stephenson et al., 2020). We review existing research on the role of intergroup attitudes and group-based identification for political outcomes in the United States and Canada, as well as the growing literature on White identity in the United States (Jardina, 2019(Jardina, , 2020Berry et al., 2021;Petrow et al., 2018;Sides et al., 2018;Croll, 2007). For the comparison between White identity and Whites' negative outgroup attitudes, we refer to the American literature on how anti-Black attitudes shape policy preferences and political behaviour (Gilens, 1995(Gilens, , 1996DeSante, 2013) as well as the burgeoning Canadian literature on how anti-Indigenous attitudes shape politics (Harell et al., 2014(Harell et al., , 2016Beauvais, 2020Beauvais, , 2021. ...
... The association between White identity and voting Conservative is also present but is not as strong as the relationship between Indigenous resentment and voting Conservative. This follows the same patterns as in the United States, where Jardina (2020) shows that racial resentment is a stronger and more consistent predictor of voting Republican than White identity. In Quebec, White identity increases the likelihood of casting a ballot for the Bloc Québécois (BQ), while outgroup attitudes do not significantly explain vote choice among Quebec voters. ...
... However, recent political events in the United States have brought about a deeper interest in White ingroup identification as a mobilizing force in politics. This new scholarship on the role of White ingroup identification (Jardina, 2019(Jardina, , 2020Berry et al., 2021;Petrow et al., 2018;Sides et al., 2018;Croll, 2007) highlights how many Americans see the world through the lens of White identity. Between 30 to 40 per cent of Americans indicate that being White is "very" or "extremely" important to their identity (Jardina, 2019: 62). ...
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... While some scholarship traces the origins of whites' support for Donald Trump, other research examines how whites' racial attitudes shape their partisanship, public opinion, and vote choice since Barack Obama's 2008 election. This flurry of scholarship identifies two principal constructs that predict whites' political behavior: out-group antipathy and in-group attachment (Sides et al., 2019;Berry et al., 2019;Jardina, 2020). These findings broadly suggest that American whites may, increasingly, behave as a politically conscious bloc motivated by a sense of status loss (Gest, 2016;Jardina, 2019) and racial resentment (Tesler, 2016). ...
... Specifically, we present evidence that whites are demobilized by their senses of prejudice and status loss, but that whites who report the most prejudice and status loss, together, are not demobilized-and are often more politically active. Second, we clarify the relationship between various constructs that measure white racial attitudes: white out-group animus and in-group solidarity are conceptually related but have analytically distinct influences on American politics (Jardina, 2020). Finally, we identify the conditional relationship between whites' prejudice and their political participation. ...
... This relationship has been documented for decades (i.e., Kinder & Sears, 1981), but scholarship conducted since Obama's 2008 victory emphasizes that whites' racial attitudes, increasingly, predict their partisanship, public opinion, and vote choice (Abrajano & Hajnal, 2015;Chudy, 2020;Craig & Richeson, 2014;Jardina, 2019;Mutz, 2018;Sides et al., 2019;Tesler, 2016). This research program, broadly, employs two kinds of constructs: one measures whites' out-group antipathy, the other measures their in-group solidarity (Jardina, 2020). We review these constructs after discussing research on political participation in the U.S. ...
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... Group status threat, as tested by the salience of racial demographic shifts, is shown in psychological research to motivate politically unaffiliated White Americans to lean more toward the Republican Party, express greater political conservatism (Craig & Richeson, 2014;Craig et al., 2018), and to increase their support for anti-immigration policies (Major et al., 2018). Living in areas with high Latino population growth is also predictive of support for the Trump presidency, resentment towards immigrants, and dissatisfaction with immigration policies (Jardina, 2020;Newman et al, 2018;Velez, 2018). I will be using the term "Latinos" in this paper to refer to members of this racial and ethnic group. ...
... Increasing levels of immigration and immigrant diversity are often viewed as threats to Americans perceived national identity (Citrin et al., 1990;Citrin & Wright, 2009;Wright, 2011). This threat of demographic shifts is shown to motivate politically unaffiliated White Americans to express greater political conservatism (Craig & Richeson, 2014;Craig et al., 2018), and to increase their support for anti-immigration policies (Jardina, 2020;Major et al., 2018;Newman et al., 2018;Velez, 2018). ...
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... While considerable support was expressed for Mr. King in our interviews, some of the strongest tropes associated with him and with Great Replacement ideology more broadly, such as conspiratorial antisemitism, dystopianism, fear of racial impurities, and immigrants as an existential threat were muted or altogether absent in the discourse of our respondents. Our respondents spoke in milder tones, emphasizing "in-group love" more than "out-group hate" (Jardina 2020). Rather than express strong animus toward outgroups, they tended to speak of positive feelings associated with their rural way of life, their traditional communities, and rural values. ...
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... As argued by Kaufmann, if the need to slow down ethnocultural change is simply motivated by ingroup attachment, then it should not be considered racist (as cited in Chotiner, 2019). This is because ingroup positivity does not necessarily need to imply outgroup prejudice or hostility (Brewer, 1999;see also Allport, 1954;Jardina, 2019Jardina, , 2021Earle & Hodson, 2020). Similarly, a belief that immigration restrictions are racially self-interested (rather than racist) might stem from a mere concern for the ingroup and its members. ...
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Cambridge Core - Social Psychology - White Identity Politics - by Ashley Jardina
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Did George Bush’s use of the Willie Horton story during the1988 presidential campaign communicate most effectively when no one noticed its racial meaning? Do politicians routinely evoke racial stereotypes, fears, and resentments without voters’ awareness? This controversial, rigorously researched book argues that they do. Tali Mendelberg examines how and when politicians play the race card and then manage to plausibly deny doing so. In the age of equality, politicians cannot prime race with impunity due to a norm of racial equality that prohibits racist speech. Yet incentives to appeal to white voters remain strong. As a result, politicians often resort to more subtle uses of race to win elections. Mendelberg documents the development of this implicit communication across time and measures its impact on society. Drawing on a wide variety of research--including simulated television news experiments, national surveys, a comprehensive content analysis of campaign coverage, and historical inquiry--she analyzes the causes, dynamics, and consequences of racially loaded political communication. She also identifies similarities and differences among communication about race, gender, and sexual orientation in the United States and between communication about race in the United States and ethnicity in Europe, thereby contributing to a more general theory of politics. Mendelberg’s conclusion is that politicians--including many current state governors--continue to play the race card, using terms like “welfare” and “crime” to manipulate white voters’ sentiments without overtly violating egalitarian norms. But she offers some good news: implicitly racial messages lose their appeal, even among their target audience, when their content is exposed.