The Activation of Prejudice and Presidential Voting: Panel Evidence from the 2016 U.S. Election
74 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018 Last revised: 23 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 22, 2019
Divisions between Whites and Blacks have long influenced voting. Yet given America's growing Latino population, will Whites' attitudes toward Blacks continue to predict their voting behavior? Might anti-Latino prejudice join or supplant them? These questions took on newfound importance after the 2016 campaign, in which the Republican candidate's rhetoric targeted immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere. We examine the relationship between Whites' prejudices, immigration attitudes, and voting behavior using a population-based panel spanning 9 years. Donald Trump's candidacy activated anti-Black but not anti-Latino prejudice, while other GOP candidates had no such effect. This and other evidence suggests that Whites' prejudice against Blacks is potentially activated even when salient political rhetoric does not target them exclusively. These results shed light on the continued political impact of anti-Black prejudice while deepening our understanding of the mobilization of prejudice. %They also illustrate a psychological mechanism through which rhetoric targeting one group may evoke longstanding cognitive associations about another.
Keywords: prejudice, priming, activation, presidential voting, 2016 election, panel data
JEL Classification: H00, J15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation