In 2018, Racism Was Down But Sexism Was Up Among Republican Voters

Here’s an interesting bit of polling research from Brian Schaffner. He used a panel study to test the effects of racist and sexist attitudes toward voting Republican in 2016 and 2018. Here’s what he found:

There are several interesting things here:

  • The chart on the left is consistent with my hypothesis that racism has decreased a bit as a driver of Republican votes now that Barack Obama has been out of office for two years. It’s hard to tell from the lines, but the effect is noticeable. In 2018, the most racist voters were about 4.3 percentage points less likely to vote Republican than in 2016. However, the least racist voters were 7.7 points less likely to vote Republican. That’s not a big change, but it does suggest that the least racist voters were running away from the GOP faster than the most racist voters.
  • actually fairly substantial: a decline of about 5-7 percentage points in the likelihood of racist attitudes to cause someone to vote Republican.
  • However, this has been more than replaced by a huge increase in the influence of toxic sexism on the party vote. As the chart on the right show, sexist attitudes had barely any effect at all in 2016. In 2018 they had an enormous effect.
  • But the effect was entirely negative. The most sexist voters voted about the same way they did in 2016. The least sexist voters abandoned Republicans in droves. They were about 30 percentage points less likely to vote for a Republican.

This is just one study, blah blah blah. Don’t take it as gospel. However, it appears to be a fairly standard kind of study, and nothing about it raises any special alarms. If Schaffner is right, racial animus (or tolerance of racial animus, perhaps) has declined a bit since the poisonous election of 2016, which makes Donald Trump’s racist appeal less effective going forward. At the same time, the Republican Party has apparently been branded very strongly as an anti-woman party. Will this last until 2020? If it does, Democrats should be in pretty good shape to elect our next president.

UPDATE: The first bullet point has been corrected to properly reflect what the chart tells us. Thanks to Arindrajit Dube for setting me straight.

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