Gallup: Racial Polarization Marks Party Preferences

Gallup: Racial Polarization Marks Party Preferences
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Political party preference has become more polarized by race and ethnicity in the Obama age, according to data from Gallup. The Republican Party is composed of more white voters than ever, while minorities increasingly support the Democratic Party.

(Gallup defines whites as non-Hispanic whites, and nonwhites as blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and all other races combined.)

Party preference by race has fluctuated somewhat over the last 20 years. Immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, both groups trended toward the GOP (though a wide gap between them remained). Yet, toward the end of the Bush administration, there was movement by both groups toward the Democratic Party. And since Obama took office, there has been general movement by both whites and nonwhites toward Republicans.

In 2013, the Democratic Party had a 45-point advantage among nonwhites -- a wide gap that had actually shrunk by more than 10 points in the last few years. Meanwhile, Republicans had a 10-point advantage with white voters.

Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones predicted that “unless there is a dramatic shift among whites toward the Democratic Party or among nonwhites toward the GOP in the next three years, party preferences will end up more racially polarized in Obama's presidency than in his two predecessors' administrations.”

Jones noted, however, that white voters didn’t necessarily become more Republican as a reaction to Obama’s election. “Whites became slightly more Republican during 2009, the first year of Obama's presidency. However, the biggest movement came during the next year, when Obama signed the healthcare overhaul into law.”

The data about race and party preference comes from hundreds of thousands of interviews conducted between 1995 and 2013. The data sample from any given year has a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point. 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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