FAYETTEVILLE, AR - Findings from the Blair-Rockefeller Poll challenge long-held assumptions about the impact of the economy on political attitudes and voting behaviors, according to a new report released today by political scientist Todd Shields.
The report, “The Economy Across Race and Region: Unemployment Fails to Dampen Positive Outlook Among African Americans and Latinos,” was released on the Blair-Rockefeller Poll website.
“While previous research suggests that high unemployment rates result in election backlash for the incumbent party, current economic conditions have not translated into negative views of the future among African Americans and Latinos,” Shields wrote. He added that the findings “may require scholars and political strategists to reconsider previous approaches during the upcoming presidential election.”
The poll’s data showed that greater percentages of Blacks and Latinos reported more optimism about the future compared with Caucasians. Further, Blacks and Latinos living in the South were more optimistic than their non-Southern counterparts.
Given the poll results, Shields suggested that the GOP could find itself gaining even more support among Caucasians, both in the South and in the non-South. On the other hand, he wrote, the Democratic Party could gain greater support among Blacks and Latinos, particularly those who live in the South.
The Blair-Rockefeller Poll was created by political scientists Todd Shields, Pearl Ford Dowe, Angie Maxwell and Rafael Jimeno of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas. With over 3,400 respondents, the poll has a national scope as well as ample sampling of such traditionally under-polled groups as Blacks and Latinos.
Additionally, by addressing topics that have been little studied, the poll allows researchers to identify socio-cultural influences on political values throughout the country with an emphasis on the South. The Blair Center partners with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute to produce the Blair-Rockefeller Poll.