September 18, 2009 1 Comment
Maureen Dowd published a column recently about racism among Republicans that seems to have created a firestorm of debate. I've wasted too much time today debating the matter on what is now the longest facebook thread I've ever been a part of (last count: 68 comments). Anyway, what's the point of being a Political Scientist if you can't go to the data. In this case, the 2008 American National Election Study. First step: racism variable: Whites are "intelligent" minus Blacks are "intelligent" added to Whites are "hard-working" minus Blacks are "hard-working." Self-administered question to minimize social desirability effects. Next step, regression model: Obama attitudes on 0-100 scale as dependent variable. Controls for race, age, income, education, party identification, ideology, attitudes towards social welfare policies. Results: racism variable highly significant and roughly equal in effect size to ideology. Same model with Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden as DV results in no significant impact for racism variable. So, as for racism attitudes driving, at least in part, attitudes towards Obama– case closed.