Racial Threat and Partisan Identification

Racial Threat and Partisan Identification

By Micheal W. Giles and Kaenan Hertz , Emory University

Over the past three decades, as the Democratic party in the South has come to depend more heavily on black voters for its success, it has experienced a decline among white adherents. Power theory views relationships between groups as a function of their competitive positions in political, economic, and social arenas. In contexts where the threat posed by a minority group is high, the dominant group’s response is predicted to be more hostile than in contexts where that threat is low. A pooled time series analysis of voter registration data for Louisiana parishes for 1975–90 provides support for the operation of the threat mechanism. Higher black concentrations are associated with declines in the percentage of white registered voters who are Democrats and an increase in the percentage who are Republicans. Consistent with the expectations of power theory, this relationship is conditioned by the social status of the parish.

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