“Racial Resentment” and the Undecided Voter by Lynn Vavreck (at Campaign Stops blog)

Lynn Vavreck has a terrific article at the Campaign Stops blog charting the influence of “racial resentment” on the likelihood that individual voters will vote for President Obama.

She defines racial resentment as “one of a set of regularly used political science measures of attitudes about race. It is born from the concept of symbolic racism, which has its share of critics. Essentially, it is a scale of four survey questions asking people to agree or disagree with questions about whether ‘generations of slavery’ have made it hard for blacks to work their way up the economic ladder – or whether blacks would be as well off as whites if they only ‘tried harder.’”

The data looks like this:

What does it mean?

Vavreck explains that the data show “the racial attitudes of undecided voters do not affect their vote for or against Obama as dramatically as those same attitudes affect otherwise-similar early deciders. On the one hand, this could be interpreted as more good news — another blow at the caricature. Perhaps undecided voters are truly post-racial. If race mattered to them as much as it does early deciders, they’d have already made up their minds, as the more partisan do. Maybe these voters are the ones who have moved ‘beyond’ race, at least in terms of their candidate selection.”

Read the complete, informative piece here: http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/in-defense-of-the-undecided/