When Do Blue and Black Make Red? The Role of Racism in Arkansas's 2008 Presidential Vote

23 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 24 Aug 2010

See all articles by Janine Parry

Janine Parry

University of Arkansas

Rafael A. Jimeno

University of Arkansas

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Anointed in both 2000 and 2004 as a “battleground state” (and indeed ultimately awarding only single-digit wins to Republicans in both years), Arkansas made national headlines in 2008 by rejecting the nationwide winner, Democrat Barak Obama, by a full 20 points. We examine the role of racism in this outcome using a simple list experiment. The experiment was administered such that half of the more than 1,329 white respondents in a statewide random sample were asked how many (of five) statements “troubled” them about Barak Obama; the other half heard a list that differed in only one respect: the item “he has two children” was replaced with “if elected, he will be the first black president.” We find a modest increase in the average number of “troubling” items reported by the latter group. Low income respondents as well as those without a college degree, were more likely than other groups to respond to the racism stimulus. Because partisan and policy-related factors also triggered experimental effects, however, we conclude that Arkansas’s rejection of Obama likely was the product of both principle and prejudice, but disentangling the two remains challenging.

Keywords: public opinion, list experiment, racism

Suggested Citation

Parry, Janine and Jimeno, Rafael A., When Do Blue and Black Make Red? The Role of Racism in Arkansas's 2008 Presidential Vote (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1644172

Janine Parry (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas ( email )

Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

Rafael A. Jimeno

University of Arkansas ( email )

Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

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