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Exploring the Racial Divide: Blacks, Whites, and Opinion on National Policy

Donald R. Kinder and Nicholas Winter
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Apr., 2001), pp. 439-456
DOI: 10.2307/2669351
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2669351
Page Count: 18
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Exploring the Racial Divide: Blacks, Whites, and Opinion on National Policy
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Abstract

Black and white Americans disagree consistently and often substantially in their views on national policy. This racial divide is most pronounced on policies that intrude conspicuously on the fortunes of blacks and whites, but it is also apparent on a wide array of social welfare issues where race is less obviously in play. Our analysis takes up the question of why blacks and whites differ so markedly, distinguishing among four alternative interpretations: one centers attention on underlying differences of class, another on political principles, a third on social identity, and the fourth on audience. Our results are complicated but coherent. We discuss their implications for the meaning of group interest, speculate on the conditions under which the racial divide might close (or widen) in the foreseeable future, and suggest why we should not wish racial differences in opinion to disappear.

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