Residents of Former Slave States Still More Likely to Be Racist and Vote Republican


On Super Tuesday, Republican Southerners proved they overwhelmingly support Donald Trump, a candidate many have noted has repeatedly demonstrated he is racist. But support despite (or perhaps because of) these attitudes are hardly the first sign racism persists within the GOP, especially in the South. Now a study offers evidence to confirm it: There is a link between residents of Southern counties that historically perpetuated slavery, and current racism and support of the GOP.

The study, published Feb. 23 in the Journal of Politics, argues that the origins of political attitudes in certain counties in the South can be traced to the prevalence of slaves there in 1860: White people who live in counties where slavery was once prevalent are still more likely to "identify as a Republican, oppose affirmative action and express racial resentment and colder feelings towards blacks," according to the study.

Andrew Harnik/AP

The researchers specifically examined polls conducted in states of the former Confederacy in 2010 and 2011 as well as slave states that did not secede, and found residents of counties with a historically high proportion of slaves were also more likely to maintain racist views of African-Americans, according to the Washington Post.

"The underlying racial hostility goes on in the culture, passed on from generation to generation," David Sears, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles told the Washington Post. "Local culture doesn't change very quickly."

Roger Ransom, an economic historian at the University of California, Riverside, concurred, telling the Washington Post, "a lot of people" in the South still think "blacks are simply inferior to whites."

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Previous studies have similarly revealed evidence of racist attitudes within the GOP. A 2015 study, for example, specifically found that 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain's campaign ads "overwhelmingly" featured his opponent, Barack Obama, with a darker skin tone, AlterNet reported in December. A 2012 Associated Press poll found 64% of Republicans expressed "implicit anti-black attitudes," and another 2012 Pew Research poll revealed that Republicans were more likely to oppose interracial dating than Democrats, according to the Washington Post.

If this legacy of evidence — not to mention a KKK leader's recent endorsement of the GOP frontrunner — didn't put to rest the question of whether racist attitudes are evident in the party, this study ought to finally do just that. 

h/t the Washington Post