The Persistence of Racial Cues and Appeals in American Elections

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This article reviews the literature on the persistence of racial cues and appeals in American elections. I focus on three central themes: racial priming, the influence of the Obama presidential campaigns on racial cues, and racial appeals in the context of a diversifying United States. I identify linkages across these domains while also suggesting avenues for future research. I argue that in the context of a diversifying United States, scholars should develop more measures that capture attitudes that are specific to groups other than African Americans. The nation's growing racial and ethnic diversity is also an opportunity to develop and test more theories that explain the political behavior of racial and ethnic minorities beyond the traditional black-white divide. Finally, since much of the research on racial cues focuses on whites’ racial animus, I suggest that scholars spend more time exploring how racial cues influence the behavior of whites with positive racial attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-320
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - May 11 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • African Americans
  • Latinos
  • Racial priming
  • deracialization
  • racial appeals
  • whites


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