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White Consciousness and White Prejudice: Two Compounding Forces in Contemporary American Politics

  • Ashley Jardina EMAIL logo
From the journal The Forum


In recent years, American politics has been defined by party polarization driven in part by Americans’ diverging attitudes toward immigration. In this article, I suggest that Donald Trump was able to capitalize on this polarization and on the way in which race is implicated in the issue of immigration. He did so by appealing to the attitudes held by two distinct groups of white Americans – those who possess a sense of animosity toward members of immigrant groups like Muslims and Latinos, and separately, whites who may demonstrate little out-group hostility, but instead have a strong sense of solidarity with their racial group. I show how white hostility toward Latinos and Muslims and white racial consciousness have become two distinct forces in American politics, driving opposition to immigration and bolstering support for Donald Trump above and beyond other presidential candidates, regardless of their party affiliations.


Table A1:

The Relationship Between Racial Attitudes and Immigration Opinion.

Decrease ImmigrationImmigration Bad for USEnd Birthright Citizenship
White Consciousness0.170***0.249***0.216***
Average of Hispanic and Muslim Thermometers−0.269***−0.271***−0.200**
Party ID0.060*−0.0420.308***
Negative National Economic Evaluations0.112**0.0770.273***
  1. Source: 2016 ANES Pilot Study.

  2. Note: Table entries are OLS coefficients. Standard errors in parentheses. All variables in model coded to range from zero to one. Data are weighted. ***p<0.01, **p<0.05, *p<0.1, two-tailed.

Table A2:

Racial Attitudes and Candidate Evaluations in January 2016.

White Consciousness0.231***0.068−0.0520.083*0.072*
Average of Hispanic and Muslim Thermometers−0.204***0.198***0.373***0.120**0.151***
Party ID0.429***−0.487***−0.362***0.470***0.419***
Negative National Economic Evaluations0.110**−0.370***−0.219***0.160***0.073
  1. Source: 2016 ANES Pilot Study.

  2. Note: Table entries are OLS coefficients. Standard errors in parentheses. All variables in model coded to range from zero to one. Data are weighted. ***p<0.01, **p<0.05, *p<0.1, two-tailed.

Table A3:

Racial Attitudes and Trump Approval Ratings.

White Consciousness0.166***
Average of Hispanic and Muslim Thermometers−0.080***
Party ID0.498***
Negative National Economic Evaluations−0.582***
  1. Source: 2018 ANES Pilot Study.

  2. Note: Table entries are OLS coefficients. Standard errors in parentheses. All variables in model coded to range from zero to one. Data are weighted. ***p<0.01, **p<0.05, two-tailed.


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Published Online: 2019-11-11

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