Study Finds That Racial Bias Plays Into Bush's Appeal
Remember the reaction we saw from many Bush supporters from the administration’s ineptitude and indifference surrounding Katrina and the losses amongst New Orleans’ largely African American wards and population? While these cultists told us in one breath that it was the fault of blacks that they didn’t get out of town or prepare better for the storm, they said in the next breath that their reaction had nothing to do with race.
Really? Tell me another one. Check out the findings from research presented last week at the conference for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
Studies presented at the conference, for example, produced evidence that emotions and implicit assumptions often influence why people choose their political affiliations, and that partisans stubbornly discount any information that challenges their preexisting beliefs.
No surprise there. I am guilty of this, as is pretty much the entire blogosphere on both sides of the aisle and the Kool-Aid drinkers we encounter here. But then take a look at what another study found.
That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.
The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.
There's the rationale for the Tom DeLay/Bush Department of Justice gerrymandering that has taken place since Bush came into office.
Vincent Hutchings, a political scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said the results matched his own findings in a study he conducted ahead of the 2000 presidential election: Volunteers shown visual images of blacks in contexts that implied they were getting welfare benefits were far more receptive to Republican political ads decrying government waste than volunteers shown ads with the same message but without images of black people.
Jon Krosnick, a psychologist and political scientist at Stanford University, who independently assessed the studies, said it remains to be seen how significant the correlation is between racial bias and political affiliation.
For example, he said, the study could not tell whether racial bias was a better predictor of voting preference than, say, policy preferences on gun control or abortion. But while those issues would be addressed in subsequent studies -- Krosnick plans to get random groups of future voters to take the psychological tests and discuss their policy preferences -- he said the basic correlation was not in doubt.
"If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial," he said. "We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks. If people say, 'This takes me aback,' they are ignoring a huge volume of research."
Rove, Luntz, Gingrich, William Bennett, and the James Dobson’s of the evangelical movement mastered the basics of this research years ago, and have based their messaging around it.
Race has been a significant factor in the GOP’s approach to voters over the last several decades, and is the basis for the Southern Strategy. The next time you hear a cultist raise a false complaint against Hillary for the “plantation” comment, or claim that the Democratic Party takes African Americans for granted, remember which party uses race in its appeal and routinely disenfranchises blacks as an election strategy.