The impact of racial context on white voters' support for black candidates in biracial elections has drawn considerable attention from students of racial politics. Two major theories—black threat and social interaction—use different geographic units and provide conflicting explanations. The present study seeks to contribute to the resolution of the controversy by empirically examining white crossover voting at both election unit and neighborhood levels. Twenty-nine mayoral and councilmanic district elections in New Orleans from 1977 to 1998 are investigated. The findings are not consistent with the hypotheses derived from black threat and social interaction theories. Rather than a reflection of racial tolerance or hostility, the changes in white crossover voting in different racial contexts may indicate a rational and strategic adjustment on the part of white voters when they face the prospect of black electoral success.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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