Hostname: page-component-f7d5f74f5-dcd55 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-10-03T04:25:52.534Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Testing the Implicit-Explicit Model of Racialized Political Communication

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2008

Gregory A. Huber
Institute for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University (
John S. Lapinski
University of Pennsylvania (


The Implicit-Explicit (IE) model of racial priming posits that implicitly racial messages will be more effective than explicitly racial ones in priming racial predispositions in opinion formation. Is the Implicit-Explicit model supported by existing data? In “Racial Priming Revived,” Mendelberg responds to our analysis of a pair of experiments in which we found that “that implicit appeals are no more effective than explicit ones in priming racial resentment in opinion formation.” In this note we demonstrate that the concerns raised about our experiments are unfounded. Further, we show that the existing work supporting the IE model suffers from serious limitations of experimental design and implementation. Cumulatively, we find that the evidence questioning the IE model is far stronger than the evidence that supports it.Gregory A. Huber is Associate Professor of Political Science and resident fellow, Institute for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University ( John S. Lapinski is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania ( They thank the numerous colleagues who provided valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this essay, including Alan Gerber, Don Green, Diana Mutz, Rogers Smith, Paul Sniderman and Lynn Vavreck.

© 2008 American Political Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Clinton, Joshua D., and John S. Lapinski. 2004. “Targeted” advertising and voter turnout: An experimental study of the 2000 presidential election. Journal of Politics 66 (1): 6996.Google Scholar
Druckman, James N., and Justin W. Holmes. 2004. Does presidential rhetoric matter? Priming and presidential approval. Presidential Studies Quarterly 34 (4): 75578.Google Scholar
Federico, Christopher M. 2004. When do welfare attitudes become racialized? The paradoxical effects of education. American Journal of Political Science 48 (2): 37491.Google Scholar
Gerber, Alan S., Donald P. Green, and David Nickerson. 2001. Testing for publication bias in political science. Political Analysis 9 (November): 38592.Google Scholar
Haas, Cliff. 1988. “Dukakis says again that Bush distorts the record.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 24, A-1.
Huber, Gregory A., and John Lapinski. 2006. The “race card” revisited: Assessing racial priming in policy contests. American Journal of Political Science 48 (2): 375401.Google Scholar
Hutchings, Vincent. 2002. Review of The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality by Tali Mendelberg. American Political Science Review 96 (3): 64748.Google Scholar
McGrory, Mary. 1988. “Soldering On.” Washington Post, October 25, A-02.
Marelius, John., 1988. “Dukakis visits S.D., decries Bush's tactics.” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 25, A-1.
Mendelberg, Tali. 1997. Executing Hortons: Racial crime in the 1988 presidential campaign. Public Opinion Quarterly 61 (1): 13457.Google Scholar
Mendelberg, Tali. 2001. The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mendelberg, Tali. 2007. Racial priming revived. Perspectives on Politics 6 (1): 10923.Google Scholar
Reid, T. R. 1988. “Seeking a ‘Political Lightning Strike’; Dukakis Team Seeks Way to Spark Campaign.” Washington Post, October 24, A-9.
Terkildsen, Nayda. 1993. When white voters evaluate black candidates: The processing implications of candidate skin color, prejudice, and self-monitoring. American Journal of Political Science 37 (4 Nov.): 103253.Google Scholar
Valentino, Nicholas A. 2001. Review of The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality by Tali Mendelberg. Public Opinion Quarterly 65 (4): 60710.Google Scholar
Valentino, Nicholas, Vincent Hutchings, and Ismail White. 2002. Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review 96 (1): 7590.Google Scholar
White, Ismail K. 2007. When race matters and when it doesn't: Racial group differences in response to racial cues. American Political Science Review 101 (2): 33954.Google Scholar