Black Americans are a core Democratic constituency, despite holding views on social issues that put them in conflict with the party. Conventional wisdom attributes this partisan commitment to the salience of race and concerns about racial inequality. This paper considers whether the Democratic bias derives in part from low levels of political knowledge. Using data from the 2004 National Annenberg Election Study, this paper examines how political knowledge moderates the relationship between social issue cross-pressures and partisan attitudes among Black Americans. I demonstrate that the extent to which Democratic allegiance persists despite policy disagreements depends on whether blacks are sufficiently knowledgeable to act on their policy views, and not simply on the importance that blacks assign to their racial commitments. It is only among politically knowledgeable Black Americans that social issue cross-pressures are at all politically consequential; for them, Democratic partisanship is resilient but not immune to policy disagreements. For blacks with low levels of political knowledge, partisan support is unaffected by policy disagreements. This pattern is most pronounced among religiously active Black Evangelicals, for whom social issues are highly salient.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 26, 2013
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