Research

Progressive familial socialization and racial attitudes of White partisans (forthcoming in Politics, Groups, and Identities),Racial socialization is typically understood as the process through which families of color educate their children to navigate a society still structured to advantage Whites. By contrast, White racial socialization (WRS) is the process through which White individuals are socialized by their families to be aware of the structural advantages that they possess as a consequence of being White. Drawing on data from the American Trends Panel, this paper explores the effects of racial socialization on White Americans’ racial attitudes. Findings demonstrate that racial socialization is associated with increased awareness of the structural disadvantages faced by Blacks, as well as greater awareness of systemic racism against Blacks. However, individuals who have been socialized to believe that they face challenges as a result of their race have a high probability of perceiving discrimination against Whites. Consequently, while socialization is associated with increased awareness of racism in US society, it is nonetheless important to be aware of socialization practices that may reinforce White ingroup attitudes.

 

Watching Together: Local news and rural civic engagement (forthcoming in Rural Sociology). Civic engagement involves active participation in political and non-political contexts in one’s community. Research consistently demonstrates that sociodemographic factors, neighborhood context, community size, and media use are all important antecedents of robust civic engagement. This paper focuses on the intersection between these latter two factors. My paper draws on multiple streams of research in the rural sociology and communication literature to develop a theoretical framework where rural individuals’ use of local media promotes greater civic engagement.  Using data from the 2018 Local News Survey, results show that the use of local newspapers and online news websites for local news and information leads to a higher probability of participation in local activities and local groups in one’s community. However, results also show that getting local news and information from traditional formats such as local TV stations may no longer be associated with an increased probability of being an active citizen in rural communities.   

 

Does the Alt-Right matter? An examination of Alt-Right influence between 2016 and 2018 (forthcoming in Nations and Nationalism), with George Hawley.The so-called Alt-Right, the most recent prominent White nationalist movement in the U.S., has gained extraordinary attention in recent years. Despite this great attention, however, the Alt-Right has been difficult to examine in a quantitative fashion because it is a primarily online phenomenon with few real-world institutions. In this paper, we use longitudinal data from the 2016 and 2017 waves of the Voter Study, as well as the 2018 ANES Pilot, to better understand the size and sources of the Alt-Right’s support over time. Our findings indicate that affect for the Alt-Right has always been relatively low. Nonetheless, we also track several important changes over time: after rising between 2016 and 2017, support for Alt-Right declined markedly in 2018. The results are therefore reflective of exponential rise of the Alt Right during the 2016 election, and the movement’s subsequent implosion after the 2017 “United the Right” rally in Charlotte. 

 

White Media Attitudes in the Trump Era (American Politics Research). Scholars and political commentators point to Trump’s war on the media since the 2016 election as an unprecedented attack on a vital check to Presidential power. However, little attention has been paid to the role that White audiences play in this critical debate. My paper examines the relationship between Trump, the media, and White audiences. Using data taken from the American Trends Panel, I show that affect for Trump is conditional on Whites’ selective partisan exposure to conservative news media. My analysis also shows that exposure to political and election news directly from Trump intensifies the relationship between Whites’ perceptions of media bias and their distrust of national news organizations. In this respect, Trump is an important moderator of hostile views towards the mainstream media. The findings provide a novel and unique contribution to the existing scholarship by demonstrating how political actors can shape individual attitudes towards the news media while operating outside of traditional media formats.

What it Means to be a "True" American: Ethnonationalism and Voting in the 2016 Presidential Election (Nations and Nationalism). A number of important factors predicted White vote choice in the 2016 US Presidential election, including voters' economic assessments, sexist attitudes, racial resentment, and status threat. In this paper, I establish that ethnonationalism - a set of beliefs concerning what it means to be a "true" American - was also a significant factor in the estimations of White Americans when casting their vote for President in 2016. Data from a nationally representative sample of White Americans show that ethnonationalism was a robust predictor of vote choice for Trump even after controlling for predictors known to shape vote choice, including economic assessments, sexist attitudes, racial resentment, status threat, and sociodemographic indicators. These results indicate that ethnonationalism, although correlated with some of these factors, operated primarily as an independent factor that shaped White vote choice. The findings have important implications concerning the electoral activation of White majorities concerned about the perceived threat that demographic change poses to American national identity.

A Review of the Popular and Scholarly Accounts of Donald Trump's White Working-Class Support in the 2016 US Presidential Election (Societies). Popular and scholarly accounts of Trump’s ascendency to the presidency of the United States on the part of the American white working-class use different variables to define the sociodemographic group because there is no “working-class White” variable available in benchmark datasets for researchers to code. To address this need, the Author ran a multinomial regression to assess whether income, education and racial identity predict working-class membership among white Americans, finding that income and education are statistically significant predictors of working-class whiteness, while racial identity is not. Arriving at a robust definition of “white working-class” in light of these findings, the paper next turns to a review of the extant literature. By retrieving studies from searches of computerised databases, hand searches and authoritative texts, the review critically surmises the explanatory accounts of Trump’s victory. Discussion of the findings from the review is presented in three principal sections. The first section explains how working-class White communities, crippled by a dearth of social and geographic mobility, have been “left behind” by the political elites. The second section examines how white Americans, whose dominant group position is threatened by demographic change, voted for Trump because of resonance between his populist rhetoric and their latent “racist” attitudes. The third and final section explores the implications of a changing America for native-born whites, and how America’s increasing ethnoracial diversity is eroding relations between its dominant and nondominant groups. The Author surmises by arguing that these explanatory accounts must be understood in the context of this new empirical approximation of “working-class White.

Ethnonationalism and White Immigration Attitudes (invited to revise and resubmitIn this paper, I explore how much of White Americans’ opposition to immigration – opposition that is often grounded in fears of the threat that immigration poses to the robustness of America’s national identity– is shaped by ethnonationalism, a set of beliefs concerning which traits are important for being a “true” American. Drawing on data from the 2016 ANES, I examine how ethnonationalism shapes White Americans attitudes towards immigrants. I find that ethnonationalism is positively associated with anti-immigrant attitudes among Whites, with the effect size of my ethnonationalism measure being larger than that of any other variable in my OLS model. Critically this includes a number of variables that are already known to be strongly predictive of White attitudes towards immigration, such as Republican partisanship. Beyond anti-immigrant attitudes, I also find that ethnonationalism also predicts support for policies that would restriction immigration. Finally, I also present evidence that ethnonationalism is an important moderator of the relationship between anti-immigrant attitudes and favorable estimations of Trump. 

Does it matter if the President isn't pious? White Evangelicals and elite religiosity in the Trump era (under review). Trump’s unwavering support among White Evangelicals - among whom many believe that Trump was also ordained by God - seems a contradiction considering his seeming irreligiosity and well publicized moral transgressions. To explain this contradiction, I use data from the American Trends Panel (ATP) to test whether White Evangelicals exhibit strong preferences for elite religiosity, and whether they evaluate Trump as being particularly religious. I find that White Evangelicals exhibit strong, generalized preferences for elite religiosity. However, when it comes to specific evaluations of Trump, White Evangelicals appear to be largely indifferent to whether or not Trump is religious. I also find that White Evangelicals who encounter threats to their religious identities are especially likely to believe that Trump was ordained by God to be President. Therefore, one explanation for this seeming indifference is Trump’s ability to speak to White Evangelicals who feel as though their beliefs are becoming marginalized in an increasingly religiously plural America. These findings demonstrate that Trump is a unique case when it comes to the effects of religiosity identity on elite evaluations, and provide a new vantage point for understanding why so many White Evangelicals support Trump despite the fact they are indifferent to his irreligiosity.