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Race, Republicans, and the Return of the Party of Lincoln

Tasha S. Philpot

Publication Year: 2007

Whether their slogan is “compassionate conservatism” or “hawkish liberalism,” political parties have always sought to expand their electoral coalitions by making minor adjustments to their public image. How do voters respond to these, often short-term, campaign appeals? Race, Republicans, and the Return of the Party of Lincoln is Tasha Philpot’s insightful study of how parties use racial images to shape and reshape the way citizens perceive them. “Philpot has produced a timely, provocative, and nuanced analysis of political party image change, using the Republican Party’s attempts to recast itself as a party sensitive to issues of race with its 2000, and later 2004, national conventions as case examples. Using a mixture of experiments, focus groups, national surveys, and analyses of major national and black newspaper articles, Philpot finds that if race-related issues are important to individuals, such as blacks, the ability of the party to change its image without changing its political positions is far more difficult than it is among individuals who do not consider race-related issues important, e.g., whites. This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of party image in general, and political parties’ use of race in particular. Bravo!” —Paula D. McClain, Duke University “This book does an excellent job of illuminating the linkages between racial images and partisan support. By highlighting Republican efforts to ‘play against type’ Philpot emphasizes the limits of successfully altering partisan images. That she accomplishes this in the controversial, yet salient, domain of race is no small feat. In short, by focusing on a topical issue, and by adopting a novel theoretical approach, Philpot is poised to make a significant contribution to the literatures on race and party images.” —Vincent Hutchings, University of Michigan Tasha S. Philpot is Assistant Professor of Government and African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Politics of Race and Ethnicity, The


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p. ix

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Introduction: Inclusion or Illusion?

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pp. 1-9

DURING THE 2000 ELECTORAL CYCLE, observers of the political landscape witnessed the emergence of a “new” Republican Party. Characterized by the catchphrase “compassionate conservatism,” the Republican Party reached out to minority voters in ways it had not in recent history. Without making any substantial changes to its platform,...

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1. Toward a Theory of Party Image Change

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pp. 10-30

WHILE THE IMPORTANCE and study of party identi‹cation has been duly noted, the study of party images—individuals’ perceptions or stereotypes of political parties—has received signi‹cantly less attention. Based on the extant literature, we know the contents of party image (Matthews and Prothro 1964; Trilling 1976; Sanders 1988) a...

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2. Party Politics and the Racial Divide

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pp. 31-61

WHEN ASSESSING THE malleability of party images, it is essential to examine how crystallized the party’s reputation is along particular dimensions. Further, it is equally important to recognize how the party built that reputation to assess the feasibility of counteracting it. The presumption is that political parties consciously engage in activities...

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3. Party Image over Time, Contemporary Party Images, and the Prospects for Change

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pp. 62-83

BASED ON THE HISTORICAL background provided in chapter 2, we know that both the Republican and Democratic Parties have engaged in a range of activities in an attempt to convey to the electorate on which side of the racial divide the parties have stood. From symbolic to legislative strategies, both parties have attempted to attract...

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4. A Different Spin: The Media’s Framing of the 2000 Republican National Convention

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pp. 84-102

WHEN ATTEMPTING TO reshape their images in voters’ minds, parties must remain cognizant of potential sources of countervailing information. Encountering information that contradicts the party’s newly projected image enables citizens to deflect partisan appeals. For this reason, it is important to examine not only a party’s campaign communication...

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5. Seeing Is Believing?: Reactions to the 2000 Republican National Convention

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pp. 103-122

THE THEORETICAL MODEL of party image change depicted in figure 2 illustrates that reshaping partisan stereotypes is a function in part of individuals’ predispositions and the media’s framing of the party. The results presented in chapter 3 suggest that individuals vary in their perceptions of political parties: African Americans’ pictures of...

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6. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Compassionate Conservative versus the Florida Recount

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pp. 123-135

SO FAR, I HAVE EXAMINED three obstacles—history, the predispositions of voters, and the media—that political parties face in attempting to reshape their images. Chapter 6 explores the role of one additional barrier—the parties themselves. Speci‹cally, I investigate what happens when a political party does not convey a consistent...

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7. The Second Time Around: Race and the 2004 Republican National Convention

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pp. 137-142

WHILE POLITICAL PARTIES FACE several obstacles when attempting to reinvent themselves in the minds of the public, there is at least one way in which a party can smooth the road ahead of it—repeat the effort. Continuing to project its new image through an additional election...

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8. Working in Reverse: Reshaping the Democratic Party

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pp. 143-157

HOW APPLICABLE IS THE THEORY of party image change beyond the activities of the Republican Party? What happens when the Democratic Party tries to appear more racially conservative? Answering these questions is the goal of chapter 8. While the preceding chapters have focused primarily on the circumstances under which the Republican...

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9. The Final Tally Race, Party Image, and the American Voter

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pp. 158-170

AT ANY GIVEN TIME, a multitude of interests attempt to exert power on the U.S. political system. Moreover, it is extremely dif‹cult to know with absolute certainty the source of observed political outcomes. Nevertheless, two competing interests in particular have been exploited throughout American history in the quest for political payoffs...

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pp. 171-194

To examine party images over time, I employ survey data collected over the past fifty years. Since 1952, the American National Election Study (ANES)1 has included open-ended questions that have solicited respondents’ perceptions of the two major parties. While the same questions have not been asked for every survey year, two comparable...


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pp. 195-204


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pp. 205-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025008
E-ISBN-10: 0472025007
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472069675
Print-ISBN-10: 0472069675

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 19 Figures & 28 Tables
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Politics of Race and Ethnicity, The
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OCLC Number: 605945784
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Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects.
  • Republican National Convention -- (37th : -- 2000 : -- Philadelphia, Pa.).
  • African Americans -- Politics and government.
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- Public opinion.
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