Islam and the American Electorate: An Experimental Assessment of Political and Racial Identifiers on Support for Muslim Candidates
27 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2011
In this paper, we extend the analysis of the electoral importance of candidates' socio-demographic backgrounds by analyzing experimental data on the impact of cues about the religious, racial, and partisan background of a hypothetical Muslim candidate.The level of ethnocentrism is the major force in shaping the likelihood of voting for Muslim candidates but not for African Americans. A Democrat and Muslim candidate would have a lot of difficulty finding electoral support even among strong Democrats, if those Democrats were highly ethnocentric. The story does not change for Muslim Republican candidate. Highly ethnocentric strong Republicans would be less likely to vote for him in comparison to welcoming strong Republicans. Even though party identification is arguably the most important factor in elections, the level of prejudice can mute its effect when the candidate is a Muslim.
Keywords: Muslims, voting behavior, experiments, ethnocentrism
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