White people’s party

Really good article from Peter Beinart in the most recent Atlantic.  It’s been sitting in an open tab for a while and I was about to put it in quick hits, but it deserves it’s own post.  Really, you should read it.  Here’s some good tidbits:

The much stronger link is between attitudes toward immigration and attitudes toward race. In 2008, two political scientists at the University of Michigan, Ted Brader and Elizabeth Suhay, along with Nicholas A. Valentino of the University of Texas at Austin, showed several hundred white Americans a fictional news story about the negative effects of immigration. Alongside the news story was a photo of a “recent immigrant.” One group of participants saw a photo of “Jose Sanchez” from Mexico. Another saw a photo of “Nikolai Vandinsky” from Russia. The men chosen for the two photos were selected such that their features were “maximally distinct on the dimension of ethnicity.” The participants were then asked a series of questions about immigration policy. The result: The people who saw Sanchez were more than twice as likely to endorse anti-immigration measures as those who saw Vandinsky.

It is this connection between views about immigration and views about race that best explains why immigration has become such a partisan wedge. Since the 1970s, political scientists have demonstrated that whites who express a higher level of resentment toward African Americans are more likely to identify as Republicans. Since the 1990s, as the political scientists Zoltan Hajnal and Michael Rivera detail in a 2014 paper, a similar correlation has emerged between resentment toward Latinos and Republican partisanship.

Hajnal and Rivera don’t offer a reason for this correlation. But it’s plausible that people who resent African Americans might have been predisposed to resent Latinos as they became an increasingly conspicuous minority group…

Such overwhelming opposition is hard to overcome. Before early May, when Trump effectively secured the Republican nomination, polls showed him leading Hillary Clinton among whites by high single digits. By late May, with Hillary Clinton still competing against Bernie Sanders, Trump’s edge among whites had risen to between 12 and 24 points. If Clinton can consolidate Sanders’s support after she wins the Democratic nomination, Trump’s margin among whites might dip. But regardless, Trump probably can’t win. A study by Latino Decisions found that even if Trump defeats Clinton by 20 points among whites—the same margin Mitt Romney achieved in 2012—and even if African Americans don’t turn out for Clinton at the rates they turned out for Obama, Trump will still need more than 40 percent of Latinos to win the popular vote. That’s extraordinarily unlikely.

That last paragraph is among the reasons it doesn’t make sense to freak out about current polls.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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