African-American Partisanship and the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement: Generational, Regional, and Economic Influences on Democratic Identification, 1973–1994

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Abstract

We explore the importance of generational effects and the changing economic circumstances of Blacks to explain variations over time in the partisan attachments of African Americans. More specifically, we explore whether generational differences have caused the cohorts that came of political age following the Civil Rights movement to be less Democratic than generations that lived through the Civil Rights movement and its aftermath. We find that while life-cycle effects explain a portion of the movement away from the two major parties, generational effects account for the small but significant increase in Republican party identification in the youngest generation. Additionally, living in the South accounts for the steepest gains in political independence. Finally, changing economic influences over time appear to have led poorer Blacks to change from the most likely to the least likely to identify with a major party.

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