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Prejudice and Tolerance in US Presidential Politics: Evidence from Eight List Experiments in 2008 and 2012

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2020

Edward G. Carmines
Indiana University
Eric R. Schmidt
Indiana University


Using list experiments on the 2008 and 2012 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project, we investigated whether respondents are more likely to vote against presidential candidates from marginalized groups. We show that conservative and Republican respondents are disinclined to support Muslim and gay candidates. However, neither Right- nor Left-leaning respondents are significantly opposed to female candidates. Surprisingly, we uncovered asymmetric prejudices toward Mormons and African Americans. In both 2008 and 2012, Republicans were far more uncomfortable with gay or Muslim candidates than with African American candidates (per se). However, Democrats in 2012 were deeply uncomfortable with Mormon candidates. These findings illustrate that prejudice in presidential politics is not confined to right-wing pathologies alone but is present on both sides of the partisan–ideological divide.

© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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