A few months ago I wrote a piece for the magazine suggesting that white racial resentment had steadily increased during Barack Obama’s presidency as a reaction against eight years of a black president. But when Obama left, the bubble burst and racial resentment returned to its usual levels. For this reason, Democrats have no reason to fear that a focus on things like immigration reform or racial justice will hurt them electorally in 2020.
A new study confirms this—sort of. It uses results from a panel survey that re-interviews the same people periodically. Here are the results:
What the authors find is that racial resentment stayed roughly steady during Obama’s presidency and then plummeted afterward. This is different from my theory but it has the same basic shape: a dam broke after the 2016 election and racial resentment declined compared to Obama’s time in office.
This is one smallish survey, so as usual I’d caution against taking it too seriously. But it matches a lot of other evidence that “the alienation of the white working class from the party associated with racial diversity was caused by the simple presence of a black man in the White House.” Now that he’s gone, that alienation is easing.