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The Compound Effects of Candidate Race and Racial Resentment in US House Elections

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2019

Isaac Hale*
University of California, Davis
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Isaac Hale, Department of Political Science, University of California, Davis, 469 Kerr Hall, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA95616. E-mail:
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Despite the longstanding underrepresentation of blacks in Congress, political science research has not settled on the cause. While there is increasing evidence that racial attitudes affect vote choice in today's congressional elections, how this effect interacts with the race of the candidates is unknown. This study addresses this debate by analyzing novel survey, census, and candidate data from the Obama era of congressional elections (2010–2016) to test whether racially prejudiced attitudes held by whites decrease their likelihood of supporting black Democratic candidates and Democratic candidates as a whole. In line with theoretical predictions, this paper finds that Democratic House candidates are less likely to receive votes among white voters with strong racial resentment toward blacks, and black Democratic candidates fare even worse. These findings help to explain the persistence of black legislative underrepresentation and contribute to theories of partisan racial realignment.

Research Article
Copyright © The Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2019

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The author wishes to thank Christopher Hare for his consultation on this paper.



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