The Race Politics Makes: Parties, Polarization, and Whites’ Racial Attitudes
Engelhardt, Andrew Michael
Race and politics have been intimately connected since the country’s founding. I argue that this link allows politics, through partisanship, to shape Whites’ beliefs about race and racial groups. Through four empirical chapters I provide an account of political race-making by highlighting ways in which politics shapes understandings of race, both in terms of racialized categories and the centrality of these concerns in interpreting lived experiences. I show that political elites’ rhetoric may contribute to mass attitudes, reveal how this rhetoric differentially affects whether the mass public identifies race as an important national problem, and uncover evidence for a dynamic relationship between partisan loyalties and racial attitudes. Racial concerns not only provide a foundation for political conflict, but my results reveal that political processes can provide a potent influence for Whites’ views about other groups in society.