Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version

December 2000


Published in SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, 81:4 (December 2000), pp. 1027-1035. Copyright © 2000 by the University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819. Used by permission.


In this paper we explore the effects of symbolic racism on the intended vote choice of whites by examining a white-on-black statewide election. It is argued that symbolic racial attitudes will be activated in a white-on-black election simply because of the mere presence of a black candidate. Methods. The white prospective vote for a white racially conservative candidate is examined using survey data from the 1995 Louisiana gubernatorial runoff conducted by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center. Results. Symbolic racism was a strong predictor of intended vote choice, even after controlling for partisan identification and self-identified political philosophy. Conclusions. Racial attitudes remain an important predictor of vote choice in the South, even when racial issues are not directly raised in an election campaign. More generally, our findings point to the continuing centrality of race and racial attitudes in the South, and specifically their role in the increase in Republican voting for subpresidential contests in the 1990s.