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Revisiting the Racial Threat Hypothesis: White Voter Support for California's Proposition 209

Caroline J. Tolbert and John A. Grummel
State Politics & Policy Quarterly
Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 183-202
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40421487
Page Count: 20
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Revisiting the Racial Threat Hypothesis: White Voter Support for California's Proposition 209
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Abstract

Are white Americans living among nonwhites more likely to support ending affirmative action than those living in more homogeneous white communities? Previous research on the contextual determinants of white racial attitudes has explored the "racial threat" hypothesis (that white racism increases with the competition posed by a greater proportion of African Americans in a community) and the extent to which these attitudes are driven mainly by cultural and socio-economic contexts. We test these hypotheses by analyzing votes for California's Proposition 209 in 1996, which aimed to end affirmative action in the state. Our census-tract-level analysis suggests that white support for Proposition 209 was higher in tracts with larger Latino, African-American, or Asian-American populations, even after controlling for other factors. Thus, our results support the racial threat hypothesis.

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