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A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE?: The Role of Racism and Patriotism in the 2008 Presidential Election

  • Christopher S. Parker (a1), Mark Q. Sawyer (a2) and Christopher Towler (a1)

Race and patriotism were recurring themes during the 2008 presidential campaign that were used to highlight differences between Barack Obama and his opponents. Yet we know little about how racism and patriotism ultimately affected support for Obama among Whites. Appeals to working-class Whites, a lot of which were thinly veiled allusions to Obama's race and perceived lack of patriotism, also figured prominently in the campaign. Accordingly, this paper explores how racism and patriotism shaped support for Obama, as well as the extent to which the effect of each is moderated by class. We find that rising symbolic racism dampened his support among Whites, as did patriotism. Moreover, we find the effects of patriotism on support for Obama were contingent upon class.

Corresponding author
Professor Christopher S. Parker, Department of Political Science, University of Washington, 117 Gowen Hall, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail:
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Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
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  • EISSN: 1742-0598
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