Thursday, July 16, 2009

Racism and Arkansas voters in the 2008 Presidential Election

A story in the Fulbright Review, a publication of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, caught my eye today. The headline is "Red, White and Blue," with an emphasis on "white." It reports on a study by three UA political science professors who considered the role of "symbolic racism" in the 2008 Presidential election in the states of Arkansas and Georgia. Here is an excerpt:
What the researchers found was that symbolic racism was a driving--and often determining--factor in how people voted in both Arkansas and Georgia.

"If people for all rational reasons should have chosen Obama, based on the issues, but they didn't, we found symbolic racism to be the dominant force in the Arkansas presidential vote. The difference in Georgia as the effect was offset by strong gains for Democrats with new voters, African American voters, and first-time voters," said [one of the professors, Angie Maxwell].

What struck the researchers was that in Arkansas, there was no precedent for electing an African American as a governor or to Congress. The whole of the South was blue in the final tally, except for Arkansas, which resembled a red bull's eye.
This story (and apparently the study on which it reports) does not touch on rurality in relation to how Arkansans voted in the 2008 Presidential election, but I have written about that issue here, here and here.

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