A new study suggests that politically unaffiliated white Americans who are experiencing a shift to minority status will feel threatened by that shift and subsequently embrace more conservative policies. They will align themselves, therefore, with the Republican Party, providing that party with a more stable base in the midst of racial divisiveness.
The revealing study, conducted by Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson at Northwestern University, was published by the professional journal Psychological Science and noted by Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner.
The research challenges the notion that the Republican Party will diminish as its aging white members die and younger whites embrace more liberal policies. It also may challenge the oft-repeated meme of many Republicans that, in order to survive, the party must embrace typically liberal policies such as amnesty, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage.
The study cites the U.S. Census Bureau’s projection that racial minority groups will comprise a majority of the country’s population in 2042, thereby creating a “majority-minority” nation. In four experiments, the researchers explored how the prominence of racial demographic changes affects white Americans’ political party inclinations and expressed ideology.
Researchers asked groups of whites to read differing reports about the anticipated racial shift. Results showed that the shift to the right was highest among those who only read reports indicating that the demographic change could threaten their status. Whites who read reports stating that they would remain ahead in terms of income and other factors felt less threatened.
Overall, however, whites united and supported conservative policies as a group.
“These results offer compelling evidence that making a majority-minority racial shift salient can lead whites to perceive that their racial group’s status is threatened and, in turn, to express greater political conservatism,” wrote the authors.
“Although this so-called majority-minority shift has been cited as a source of impending trouble for the Republican Party, there is reason to believe that it may lead to greater endorsement of conservative political ideology, at least among white Americans,” they added.
“Moreover, the results implicate group-status threat as the mechanism underlying these effects,” wrote the researchers. “Taken together, this work suggests that the increasing diversity of the nation may engender a widening partisan divide.”