Despite growing ideological diversity within the group, black Americans have maintained their overwhelmingly unified support for the Democratic Party. We argue that black Democratic partisanship is upheld, in part, through black Americans’ use of social sanctions (both positive and negative) to encourage compliance with a group norm of Democratic Party support. Leveraging the exogenous assignment of racial social context provided by the race of an interviewer in face-to-face American National Election Study survey interviews of black respondents, we demonstrate the racialized social imperative of black Democratic Party identification. We show that black respondents are more likely to identify as Democrats in the presence of other blacks, particularly those respondents whose conservative ideological placement provides a cross-pressuring incentive to otherwise make an alternative partisan choice. Our social explanation of black partisan homogeneity is a significant departure from previous accounts that have focused almost exclusively on attitudinal ascriptions to racial shared fate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science