Response one pod-05

Response one pod-05

One of the biggest changes that has occurred to disturb the patterns that were once reliable was the surge in multiracial movement in the 1990s. This movement was linked to the census designations available in 1990 for racial identification because there were not enough choices to reflect the diversity that actually exists. As Williams (2017) explains, traditional racial categories broke down during this movement which is an important aspect of how people view themselves as voters. Changes in self-identification is an important indicator in how groups vote and respond to elections in general. It is difficult to find trends between voting or partisan choices and racial or ethnic groups when the people who would traditionally have been assumed as members of one group may not identify that way. People who are of African and Hispanic descent, as one of numerous possible examples, may self-identify more as African or more as Hispanic which is determined by more factors than political partisanship can truly take into account. Most recently, eight years with a multiracial president has changed how groups identify with political parties. Jacobson (2016) discusses Obama as having been the most polarizing president in history, up to that point at any rate. During the eight years of Obama’s presidency, divides along generational lines widened and evaluations of his success split along racial lines (Jacobson, 2016).

The most recent election, if one digs past the hyperbole, tended to focus more on what elections mean in terms of power distribution. Butcher and Goldsmith (2017) describe the redistribution of power after elections as a bargain for those who win and a position of potential loss for those who do not win elections or who support the losing party. The fear of power transfer and loss can create a situation where violence is likely. Butcher and Goldsmith (2017) were focused on ethnically fractionalized countries where violence was expected in the course of power transfers and elections but did not find violent responses as much as one would think. Although the focus was on ethnically split countries, the 2016 elections in America did have violent results even though the divisions were not always or solely between different races. The divisions were also ideological.

The ideological divisions between people in America will continue to grow and be the basis for partisan alignment more than race or ethnicity or gender. Boudreau, et al. (2015) examine the likelihood of partisan alignment and voter decisions based on the endorsements of parties and newspapers which are treated as non-ideological signals by voters. The suggest made by Boudreau, et al (2015) is to provide more information on the issues important to the candidate so the voter can base votes on who is most aligned with their policy priorities. The 2016 elections, while still slinging plenty of mud and scandal, really did put policy issues front and center. Regardless of how one feels about Trump, he put the spotlight on issues he knew were important to millions of voters. Obama might not retain the title of most polarizing president, but Trump did make policy issues an important part of the election again which is a change from the days of voting for someone simply because a newspaper endorsed them. The midterm elections are fast approaching, and it will be interesting to watch debates and campaigns to see how many candidates at the state and federal level follow that formula.


Boudreau, C., Elmendorf, C.S., and MacKenzie, S.A., (2015). Lost in space? Information shortcuts, spatial voting, and local government representation. Political Research Quarterly. 68(4). 843-855.

Butcher, C. and Goldsmith, B.E. (2017). Elections, ethnicity, and political instability. Comparative Political Studies. 50 (10). 1390-1419. Doi: 10.1177/0010414016666858.