Proposal for the 2016 Pilot Study: The Political Consequences of White Sympathy and Guilt

A long, vibrant tradition of political science research has examined the pernicious effects of racial prejudice on vote choice (Hutchings 2009; Kinder and Dale-Riddle 2012), turnout (Krupnikov and Piston 2015; Pasek et al. 2009), and policy opinion (n.b., Huddy and Feldman 2009). However, despite the valuable contributions this scholarship has made in helping us understand the impact of negative racial attitudes, we know very little about the nature, extent, or political consequences of positive racial attitudes. To be sure, recent scholarship (Tesler 2012; Tesler and Sears 2010) has begun to address the possibility that some whites hold politically consequential racial attitudes that lead them to support blacks. However, existing work has not developed strong theoretical foundations about such attitudes and typically relies on the racial resentment battery, a controversial scale (n.b., Huddy and Feldman 2009; Sniderman, Carmines, and Easter 2011), to measure them. The questions proposed here are designed to address these limitations. They measure two distinct types of racial attitudes, sympathy toward blacks and guilt about racial inequality. Our pilot studies indicate that these measures have high validity, and they powerfully predict evaluations of Obama as well as a wide range of policy opinions.

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