Liberalizing Racial Attitudes Continued into 2018


With the recent release of 2018 CCES data, I extended the time series on racial resentment battery responses by party (filling in 2016, which didn’t include the standard RR items, with combined university team modules). White Democrats have continued a huge movement in the liberal direction on questions of race into 2018 (attitudes towards blacks here). In the CCES, it’s been an even larger shift over the last two years than in prior years.

Some context on this change (liberalizing racial attitudes especially among Democrats):

  • It’s apparent across various datasets, supporting the idea that this is real and meaningful movement (see graphs/explanations here for ANES, here for VSG, and here for GSS)
  • Similar movement appears for other outgroups (i.e. relative to whites) and policy questions that invoke other outgroups (see graph here)
  • The change appears more to do with “changing of minds” rather than partisan sorting around racial views (see analysis here)
  • Panel data from 2011 to 2016 shows the individual level change is strongest among white Democratic youth (see here), but CCES (cross-sectional) data from 2010 to 2018 shows a liberalizing trend that cuts across all age groups (among white Democrats), as the below graph shows:


What’s driving this liberalizing racial attitude change? Some potential factors:

  • Candidate rhetoric in the 2016 election–which heavily centered on race and identity–likely played a role (see here), as did partisan cues–coming in different forms–more broadly over the last decade or so (see here)
  • Lasting movement past the election and into 2018 likely has to do with the Trump presidency and the strong, negative outgroup cue that presidential rhetoric represents for Democrats (see here)
  • Given that these trends occurred over the course of nearly a decade now, it’s important to look before the 2016 election period and Trump era; reactions to and conversations around police shootings and social movements like Black Lives Matter perhaps have a role in spurring racial attitude change (see discussion/preliminary evidence here)

3/27/19 update: Check out a piece by Thomas Edsall in The New York Times opinion pages that includes the first graph above, and some discussion on it and other liberalizing social attitudes/trends in the U.S.

Liberalizing Racial Attitudes Continued into 2018

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