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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Long-Term Continuities in the Politics of Race


This study tests for long-term continuities in the politics of race. It uses a quasi-experimental method to examine the role of racial issues in presidential voting in the present era. It identifies two earlier historical eras in which it is generally agreed racial issues were a central point of partisan division in national politics: the immediately antebellum and civil rights periods. It uses presidential voting data to demonstrate continuity in the distribution of the vote across states between those two eras, and between both eras and the present. The pattern of the vote has been quite different in eras when race has not been a central national political issue. We argue that these data are consistent with the view that divisions over race continue to underlie partisan preferences to a significant degree in the present era.

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