Photo: Latinos Remain Optimistic in spite of Economy
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 by political scientist Todd Shields. The report, “The Economy Across Race and Region: Unemployment Fails to Dampen Positive Outlook Among African Americans and Latinos,”shows that while unemployment rates are substantial among African Americans and Latinos, these groups still have surprisingly optimistic views of their economic future..
“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 African Americans and Latinos reported more optimism about the future compared with Caucasians. Further, African Americans 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 African Americans and Latinos, particularly those who live in the South.
Shields’ report used data from the Blair-Rockefeller Poll, conducted in November 2010 by Knowledge Networks. The poll is a joint project of the university’s Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute of the University of Arkansas System.
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 African-Americans and Latinos.