Race, class, or both? Responses to candidate characteristics in Canada, the UK, and the US

Abstract: Research suggests that voters use identity markers to infer information about candidates for office. Yet politicians have various markers that often point in conflicting directions, and it is unclear how citizens respond to competing signals – especially outside of a few highly stigmatized groups in the US. Given the relevance of these issues for electoral behavior and patterns of representation, this article examines the impact of intersectional identities and less intensely stigmatized markers in Canada, the UK, and the US. It does so using a survey experiment that varies the race (white/East Asian) and class background (higher/lower) of a candidate for office. I then compare results across the cases, examining willingness to vote for the candidate as well as assumptions about his ideological proximity, relatability, and potential contributions. In doing so, I build from past research suggesting that voter ideology likely shapes reactions to candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds. Results suggest that marginalized identity markers have relatively widespread effects among leftists and (to a lesser extent) centrists, but that, outside of the Canadian left, class seems to matter more than race. Overlapping marginalized identities, in turn, had little impact, with the lower-class white and East-Asian profiles eliciting similar reactions.

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License CC BY-NC-ND
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/21565503.2019.1636833
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative
Pedagogical Note Not Yet