by Max Brantley
New research at the University of Arkansas concludes:
When University of Arkansas political scientists analyzed surveys conducted shortly before the 2008 election in two representative Southern states, they found that voting behavior was significantly influenced by “a deep, subtle and modern symbolic racism.”
In a paper published in the June 2010 issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly, Pearl K. Ford, Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields examined the effect of the Obama candidacy on candidate support in Arkansas and Georgia. Their research contributes to the scholarly understanding of symbolic racism and for the first time examines its impact on a national election. Their research results spanned political parties and the patterns held true for both Republicans and Democrats.
“To understand the New South,” Shields said, “we’re going to have to understand the new politics of race.”
What is symbolic racism?
The blatant, public racism of the Jim Crow era had declined; but, the Arkansas researchers wrote, a system of beliefs remains that “denies the ongoing struggle for equality experienced by African Americans.” Previous studies have shown that symbolic racism “is closely related to white opposition to various public policies that are indirectly linked to race, such as housing, busing and crime.”
Symbolic racism is often linked with conservative values. ...