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Issue Evolution Reconsidered: Racial Attitudes and Partisanship in the U.S. Electorate

Alan I. Abramowitz
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 1-24
DOI: 10.2307/2111333
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111333
Page Count: 24
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Issue Evolution Reconsidered: Racial Attitudes and Partisanship in the U.S. Electorate
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Abstract

Carmines and Stimson's theory of racial issue evolution has strongly influenced scholarly and popular interpretations of U.S. party politics. The central proposition of this theory is that racial attitudes have shaped \ the party loyalties of voters who have entered the electorate since 1964. Using data from the 1980 and 1988 American National Election Studies, this paper undertakes a test of the theory of racial issue evolution by examining the relationships between racial attitudes and party identification among white U.S. citizens. The evidence presented in this paper shows that racial attitudes had very little influence on party identification among either younger or older whites. Other issues, especially those involving the scope of the welfare state and national security, played a much larger role in driving many whites away from the Democratic party during the 1980s. Furthermore, racial attitudes had a negligible impact on whites' candidate preference in the 1988 presidential election.

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