The Limited Impact of Identity Frames on Support for Multiracial Candidates
27 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 17, 2020
The number of multiracial candidates seeking office in the United States is growing in an increasingly diverse America. This presents the media with new choices about how to frame candidates with potentially complex racial backgrounds. We investigate the impact of these decisions using a survey experiment on Kamala Harris---the first Black woman and the first Asian woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket. Our results reveal little evidence of framing effects: relative to a news headline ignoring race and gender altogether or a headline only highlighting gender, headlines that emphasize Harris's Black, Asian, or multiracial background do not change voters' attitudes toward the Biden-Harris presidential ticket. These findings suggest that simply highlighting different elements of a multiracial candidate's background is insufficient to boost or dampen popular support. While identity frames could be more powerful in other contexts, concerns about how the media present multiracial identities may be overblown.
Keywords: identity politics, media frames, multiracial, race, gender
JEL Classification: C91, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation