White Voters are Different: How the Racialization of Poverty Contributes to Republican Party Support Among Low-to-Working-Class White Voters
Rogoff, Gabrielle Pelagia
Morrison, Donna R.
In the past 60 years, the number of low-to-working class White voters who have deserted the Democratic Party and instead support Republican candidates has steadily increased. Low-to-working-class Americans of other races have not abandoned the Democratic Party in comparable ways, and this shift did not occur among White Americans in other income groups. This increase is unexplained by religious mobilization or other prominent cultural wedge issues. This study evaluates the extent to which low-to-working-class White American voters’ partisan shift is explained by the racialization of poverty. Using the American National Election Study Cumulative Data File, I evaluate the relationships between straight-ticket Republican voting, White low-to-working-class socioeconomic membership, and attitudes toward Black people for the general election years between 1948 and 2016. I find that the likelihood of voting straight-ticket Republican is nearly five times higher for low-to-working-class White voters, lower for those who have positive feelings toward people on welfare, and over six times higher for those who believe that Black people must try harder to succeed. Additionally, the likelihood of believing that Black people must try harder to succeed is nearly two times higher for low-to-working-class White voters and nearly eight times higher for people who vote straight-ticket Republican. These analyses reveal clear positive relationships between White voters’ perceptions of the links between race and poverty and their support for Republican political candidates and policies.
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