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Protecting the Right to Discriminate: The Second Great Migration and Racial Threat in the American West

  • TYLER T. RENY (a1) and BENJAMIN J. NEWMAN (a2)


Taking advantage of a unique event in American history, the Second Great Migration, we explore whether the rapid entry of African Americans into nearly exclusively White contexts triggered “racial threat” in White voting behavior in the state of California. Utilizing historical administrative data, we find that increasing proximity to previously White areas experiencing drastic Black population growth between 1940 to 1960 is associated with significant increases in aggregate White voter support for a highly racially-charged ballot measure, Proposition 14, which legally protected racial discrimination in housing. Importantly, we find that this result holds when restricting the analysis to all-White areas with high rates of residential tenure and low rates of White population growth. These latter findings indicate that this relationship materializes in contexts where a larger share of White voters were present during the treatment and exercised residential-choice before the treatment commenced, which is suggestive of a causal effect.


Corresponding author

Tyler T. Reny is a PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles (
Benjamin J. Newman is an Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of California, Riverside (


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We thank Bryan Wilcox-Archuleta, Matt A. Barreto, APSR's anonymous reviewers, and participants, panelists, and discussants at the 2018 Western Political Science Association Conference, the Midwest Political Science Association conference, and the UCLA Racial and Ethnic Politics Research Lab for helpful feedback and discussion. We thank Steven Melendez for his assistance with data preparation and processing. Finally, we are grateful for the research support from the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. Replication files can be found on the American Political Science Review Dataverse:



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Protecting the Right to Discriminate: The Second Great Migration and Racial Threat in the American West

  • TYLER T. RENY (a1) and BENJAMIN J. NEWMAN (a2)


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