A PARTY OF A DIFFERENT COLOR? RACE,
CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION, AND
Tasha S. Philpot
Although studies have examined the contents of party images and the impact of those
images on candidate evaluations, we do not have an understanding of the conditions
that lead to party image change. In this article, I examine the impact of racialized
campaigns on perceptions of individuals’ party images. Moreover, I explore the factors
that mediate the campaigns’ effects. I argue that the success of a strategy’s ability to
alter party images depends on the strength of the individuals’ extant party images.
Using the 2000 Republican National Convention as a case study, I ﬁnd that party
images are indeed malleable. Further, I ﬁnd that race, party identiﬁcation, and edu-
cation mediate party image change.
Key words: party images; race; public opinion; political symbols; elections.
In 2000, the Republican Party, led by presidential candidate George W.
Bush, developed a campaign to soften its image with respect to race. The high
point of this campaign strategy occurred during the Republican Party’s
national convention in Philadelphia. One of the prominent themes of the 2000
Republican National Convention focused on the inclusiveness and diversity of
the Republican Party. For instance, the number of black convention delegates
increased from 52 in 1996 to 85 in 2000. The convention also featured
important appearances by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. In fact, there
were more black speakers and entertainers featured during the ﬁrst night of
the 2000 convention than there had been in all 4 days of the 1996 convention.
At the same time, however, the Republican Party maintained its traditional
Tasha S. Philpot, Assistant Professor, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin,
1 University Station A1800, Austin, TX 78712-512-232-3681 (email@example.com)
Political Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 3, September 2004 (
0190-9320/04/0900-0249/0 Ó 2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.