Title page for ETD etd-04262011-131328

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fowler, Matthew
Author's Email Address mfowle3@gmail.com
URN etd-04262011-131328
Title Threat, Violence, and Voters: Race and Context in the 2008 Presidential Election
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sullivan, Jas Committee Chair
Garand, James Committee Member
Parent, Wayne Committee Member
  • violence
  • black candidates
  • the south
  • elections
  • political behavior
  • racial threat hypothesis
Date of Defense 2011-03-25
Availability unrestricted
The 2008 Presidential Election brought into office the first African-American president in U.S. history. This paper analyzes variations in White support for Barack Obama based on a number of county-level contextual factors, which are hypothesized to influence aggregate White voter support for the Democratic candidate. Based on the well-known racial threat theory, this paper will explore how racial composition and income inequality effect White support for Barack Obama. Another key explanatory variable, violence, is thought to influence White voter support because of the preconceptions some of these voters hold about African-Americans. Violence helps shape the stereotypes White voters hold, and these stereotypes are not left behind when entering the voting booth. If violence helps explain variation in county-level White support for Barack Obama, this paper offers preliminary evidence that stereotypes about violence may have a significant influence on voting and African-American candidate strategies may not have the sway necessary to overcome some of these barriers in the electoral arena.
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