American National Election Studies

Barack Obama won re-election as president in 2012 with 39 percent of the white vote, 4 percent less than what he received in 2008. According to a Feb. 6 article in The New York Times, the dip in white support is one sign of how the election of the nation’s first Black president has affected racial attitudes. Still, Obama’s white support falls within the norm of that received by other Democratic candidates for president in the years between 1952 and 2012, the article said. But it also cited a 2010 paper, based in part on data from the American National Election Studies, that argued that party attachments became more polarized by racial attitudes and race after Obama became the Democratic nominee in 2008. In particular, between 2006 and 2008, voters who were high on a racial-resentment scale—showing “subtle hostility towards African-Americans”—increased their partisanship within the Republican Party. The shift shows the intensifying conservatism within the right wing of the Party, the article said.