The Great Divider: Obama's Influence on Trust in Government and Racial Attitudes

37 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2016

Date Written: July 31, 2016


Since the 2008 Presidential election, a number of studies have surfaced asserting that the election of Barack Obama ignited stronger levels of racial resentment than in previous presidential elections. These studies suggest that opposition to Barack Obama and his policies are functions of racially resentful attitudes. Others have argued that whites opposition to Barack Obama has nothing to do with race and that race is no longer prevalent in biracial elections. Employing data from the American National Election Study data from 2004, 2008, and 2012, this chapter examines the effect of race on political attitudes, specifically trust in government and racial resentment in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Presidential Elections. The implications of this study suggest that race did in fact impact respondents’ trust in the government and their propensity to show signs of racial resentment in 2008 and 2012. The findings of this analysis suggest that the presence of an African American president has activated stronger attitudes among Whites and has eroded trust in government between both Black and Whites.

Keywords: Racial Resentment, Obama, Political Trust

Suggested Citation

Peterson, Clarissa and Riley, Emmitt Y., The Great Divider: Obama's Influence on Trust in Government and Racial Attitudes (July 31, 2016). Available at SSRN:

Clarissa Peterson

Depauw University ( email )

105 Asbury Hall
Greencastle, IN 46135
United States

Emmitt Y. Riley (Contact Author)

DePauw University ( email )

Greencastle, IN 46135
United States
6623920876 (Phone)

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