True colors: White conservative support for minority Republican candidates

M. V. Hood, Seth C. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although the vast majority of minority candidates run under the Democratic label and minority voters are more supportive of the Democratic Party, in recent years a nontrivial number of minority candidates have won Republican Party nominations in high-profile elections (i.e., governor and US Senate). In this study, we assess the level of support that white conservative voters give to minority Republican candidates. We are interested in seeing whether these voters are less supportive of the Grand Old Party (GOP) standard-bearer when the candidate is not white, since the vast majority of Republican candidates and Republican identifiers are non-Hispanic whites. Our data come from the 2006, 2010, and 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) surveys - election years with minority Republican nominees for governor and US Senate. Controlling for various factors, we consistently find that white conservatives are either more supportive of minority Republicans or just as likely to vote for a minority as they are a white Republican (a null result). Although we hesitate to dismiss the presence of racial prejudice in voting behavior, in the case of white conservatives our analyses suggest that the base of the GOP does not discriminate against minority nominees in high-profile contemporary general elections. At a minimum, the level of ideological polarization in American politics masks racially prejudiced voting behavior, and at a maximum, it renders it inoperable, because white conservatives view recent minority Republican nominees as at least as conservative as white GOP nominees and their level of support reflects this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-52
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


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