Racial Polarization and the Challenge to the Voting Rights Act

There can be no doubt that the covered jurisdictions differ, as a group, from the noncovered jurisdictions in their rates of  racially polarized voting. There can also be no doubt that voting the covered jurisdictions is becoming more, not less, polarized over time.

From a new paper by Nathaniel Persily, Charles Stewart, and Stephen Ansolabehere.  It is obviously relevant given today’s arguments before the Court which, at first blush, suggest that a majority is skeptical of this aspect of the VRA.  For example, John Roberts asked:

Is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than the citizens in the North?

Well, there is this:

General Social Survey and National Election Studies data from the 1970s to the present indicate that whites residing in the old Confederacy continue to display more racial antagonism and ideological conservatism than non-Southern whites. Racial conservatism has become linked more closely to presidential voting and party identification over time in the white South, while its impact has remained constant elsewhere. This stronger association between racial antagonism and partisanship in the South compared to other regions cannot be explained by regional differences in nonracial ideology or nonracial policy preferences, or by the effects of those variables on partisanship.

[Originally posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.