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Will Americans Vote for Muslims? Cultural Outgroup Antipathy, Candidate Religion, and U.S. Voting Behavior

  • Kerem Ozan Kalkan (a1), Geoffrey C. Layman (a2) and John C. Green (a3)
Abstract

We assess how likely Americans are to support political candidates who are Muslim, and the extent to which support for Muslim candidates is structured by “cultural outgroup antipathy”—generalized antipathy targeting cultural outgroups. We employ two survey experiments included in the 2007 and 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies that juxtapose a hypothetical state legislative candidate's Muslim faith with Arab ethnicity, African American race, and both Democratic and Republican party affiliation. Identifying a candidate as Muslim significantly reduces voter support and that reduction is largest among people with higher levels of cultural outgroup antipathy. The effect is consistent regardless of whether the candidate is also identified as being Arab or African American or is just presented as a Muslim. We also find that cultural outgroup antipathy diminished electoral support for same-party Muslim candidates among Democrats but not among Republicans.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kerem Ozan Kalkan, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave. Beckham 100, Richmond, KY 40475. E-mail: kerem.kalkan@eku.edu
Footnotes
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We thank Andre Audette, Dave Campbell, Jeremy Castle, Anne Cizmar, Nate Sumaktoyo, and Chris Weaver for helpful comments and criticisms. We thank the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame, and the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland for assistance in funding our data collection. Kerem Ozan Kalkan also acknowledges the support he received from EKU University Fellows Program during the 2016–2017 Academic Year that enabled him to focus on this project. Any errors or problems that remain in this work are the sole responsibility of the authors.

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Footnotes
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