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1. NEW from me: Average levels of racial prejudice have declined in America, but at the same time, racial identity has become more important in determining voting behaviour. How do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory trends? [THREAD] economist.com/united-states/…
2. White nationalism has occupied a lot of media attention over the past three years. Rightly so; Some people have done violent, nauseating things the media needs to cover. But this gives a false impression that racism in America might be on the increase. It is not.
3. A lot of discrimination today comes from the mind, rather than the mouth or fist. Inner prejudice—"implicit biases"—cause employers and the education system to be biased against African Americans, and cause cops to stop black drivers disproportionately often than white ones.
4. Rejoice! A new study from @TesCharlesworth & @banaji shows that implicit and explicit biases against African Americans have decreased recently. Other data also show that the US is becoming more tolerant, like Pew polls showing ⬆️ support for doing more to ensure equal rights.
5. Puzzlingly this has happened while Americans' racial identities have become melded to their political identities, with Democrats largely the party of inclusion (81% say that the country needs to do more to ensure equal rights for blacks & whites) and the GOP largely exclusion.
6. At the same time, white identity politics has become very noticeable in the US, largely thanks to amplification from Donald Trump ("shithole" countries, Mexican "rapists" and drug lords, etc). This leads to the misinterpretation that white identity, too, is increasing.
7. @johnmsides tells me the ANES shows declining shares of respondents who strongly identify as white and perceive discrimination against whites between 2012 and 2016. This is just one data point, though. Either way, it looks as if white identity is declining or staying flat.
8. This is an important point, but keep in mind, it's the salience of racial identity to voting that makes it important to explore.
9. So, declining prejudice, but increasing salience of racial identity. How? @AshleyJardina's new book suggests that people can identify with their race without being racist: 9% of white Americans are unabashed racists, while, 30-40% feel a strong attachment to their whiteness.
10. The politics of racism are important. Partisan polarisation on racial equality has largely been driven by candidates' rhetoric on the issue. That's why the white nationalist appear numerous when really, their declining ranks are just getting louder (for now).
11/11. A way out? If candidates decide that other issues matter more, @johnmsides tells me, then racial issues could have less impact on vote choice. That could create an opportunity for both parties to push for equality, instead of the charge being driven by one or the other.
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