The Effects of Dehumanizing Attitudes about Black People on Whites' Voting Decisions

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Political scientists have long noted the key role racial attitudes can play in electoral politics. However, the 2016 election of Donald Trump raises questions about prevailing theories of racial attitudes and their political effects. While existing research focuses on 'cultural' or 'modern' forms of racial prejudice, this article argues that a sizeable portion of White Americans, disturbingly, dehumanize Black people: that is, they view Black people as less than fully human. Unsurprisingly, given the blatant racism of Donald Trump's campaign, this study also demonstrates that dehumanizing attitudes toward Black people are more strongly associated with support for Trump than with support for other candidates in the 2016 Republican primary. The authors also find evidence that dehumanizing attitudes toward Black people bolstered Donald Trump's vote share among Whites in the 2016 presidential election. Finally, dehumanizing attitudes are negatively associated with Whites' evaluations of Barack Obama, even after holding standard measures of racial prejudice constant. These findings suggest that a fundamental form of racism - dehumanizing attitudes toward Black people - can powerfully shape candidate evaluations and voting decisions in the twenty-first century.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jardina, A; Piston, S

Published Date

  • January 1, 2021

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-2112

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0007-1234

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S0007123421000089

Citation Source

  • Scopus