Ismail K. White and Chryl Laird Receive the 2021 Best Book Award

The APSA Best Book Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best book on government, politics, or international affairs.   

Dr. Ismail White is Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He received his B.A. in political science from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. Dr. White studies American politics with a focus on Black politics, public opinion, and political participation. He is co-author of the recent book Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior (Princeton University Press, 2020), which explains the maintenance of Black unity in party politics through the establishment and enforcement of racial group norms of political behavior. His research has appeared in a range of academic journals including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Analysis, Journal of Black Studies, Race and Social Problems, and Politics, Groups and Identities. His work has won awards from the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.  He currently serves on board of the American National Election Study and as the Director of Survey Research at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.  

Chryl Laird, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. She is the co-author of Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior (Princeton University Press 2020). Her scholarship can be found in several journals in political science including American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics (forthcoming), Politics, Groups, and Identities, and American Politics Research. She has received numerous awards and honors for her scholarship including the 2021 American Political Science Association (APSA) Best Book Award, 2021 Distinguished Junior Scholar Award from the APSA Political Psychology Section, 2021 Co-Winner of the Best Book Award from the APSA Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section, and the 2014 Rodney Higgins Faculty Paper Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. Her research and commentary have been featured in various news outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, The Atlantic, NPR and FiveThirtyEight. 

Citation from the Award Committee: 

In Steadfast Democrats, Ismail K. White and Chryl N. Laird do everything you want in a great book: surprise, provoke, and engage. The result is an immensely readable, timely and insightful book that is the winner of the American Political Science Association Best Book award for 2021 – one that is sure to join past winners in the canon of political science. The book answers a central question in political science: why have Black Americans remained so loyal to Democratic candidates? White and Laird offer a new answer rooted in what they call “racialized social constraint” and marshal compelling evidence from national election studies as well as experiments to show how social linkages compel norms of Black political behavior. The findings speak to several subfields in the discipline and offer new directions for scholars of race and ethnic politics, political behavior, and political parties and institutions. In short, this is a ground-breaking book and a model of political science scholarship that is accessible to a wide and varied audience. 


APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Anjali Thomas (Chair), Georgia Institute of Technology; Professor Heath Brown, City University of New York, Graduate Center and John Jay College; Dr. Han Dorussen, University of Essex; Dr. Liza Mugge, University of Amsterdam; and Dr. Anand Edward Sokhey, University of Colorado, Boulder.