The 'Race Card' Revisited: Assessing Racial Priming in Policy Contests

American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2006

Posted: 31 Jan 2009

See all articles by Gregory Huber

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science

John S. Lapinski

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 30, 2009

Abstract

In The Race Card (2001),Mendelberg finds support for her theory that implicit racial appeals, but not explicit ones, prime racial resentment in opinion formation. She argues that citizens reject explicit appeals, rendering them ineffective, because they violate widespread egalitarian norms. Mendelberg's innovative research, however, suffers from several limitations. We remedy these deficiencies using two randomized experiments with over 6,300 respondents. We confirm that individuals do tend to reject explicit appeals outright, but find that implicit appeals are no more effective than explicit ones in priming racial resentment in opinion formation. In accounting for the differences between previous research and our own, we show that education moderates both the accessibility of racial predispositions and message acceptance. This suggests that the necessary assumptions of Mendelberg's theory hold only for different and exclusive subsets of the general population.

Keywords: Field Experiments, Randomization, Priming, Opinion Formation, Racial Appeals

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Huber, Gregory and Lapinski, John S., The 'Race Card' Revisited: Assessing Racial Priming in Policy Contests (January 30, 2009). American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1335458

Gregory Huber (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

John S. Lapinski

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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