Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Laura R. Woliver

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To determine the predominance of linked fate and socio-demographic predictors race, class, and gender in the political partisanship of African Americans, and in the political partisanship of comparison racial and ethnic group populations.

METHODS: Data obtained from the 1996 National Black Election Study panel series were used to examine the political attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of 824 adult African Americans. In addition, data collected for the 2004 National Politics Study examined 3,087 American adults from comparison racial and ethnic population groups. These groups included 706 African Americans, 868 White Non-Hispanics, 676 Hispanics, 466 Asians, and 371 Black Caribbeans. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to analyze linked fate and socio-demographic predictors of African American political partisanship.

RESULTS: In the 1996 sample about 69% of African Americans were Democrats, 20% Independent, and 4% Republicans. Similarly, in the 2004 sample Democratic preferences were held by 70% African Americans followed by about 66% Black Caribbeans, 44% Hispanics, 37% Asians, and 36% White Non-Hispanics. In the multinomial logistic regression models linked fate was less likely to influence African American political partisanship in 1996. Still, when considering the unique contribution of linked fate and social demography--race, class, and gender--used to predict political partisanship among comparison populations in 2004, support for the Democratic Party was more likely among respondents with perceptions that linked fate has some affect on them; and among all racial and ethnic population groups when compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. On the other hand, as class increased the likelihood of Democratic partisanship decreased, whereas gender was not significantly associated with predicting political partisanship (p>0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Race continues to be the predominant predictor of significant and distinctive partisan preference attitudes in the African American racial group. The relationship of race, class, gender, linked fate, and partisanship shows some reliance on a (black) racial or ethnic group heuristic for political decision-making. Still, further investigation is needed to assess whether such group cues in partisan decisions actually reflect perceptions of a (black) linked racial fate rather than a sense that one's fate is linked to that of the Democratic Party.

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