Barack Obama and Americans’ Racial Attitudes: Rallying and Polarization

During the 2008 presidential election, and briefly following it, researchers and pundits wondered whether the election of America’s first African-American President could create a post-racial America. But while political scientists have done much to analyze the election itself, we remain largely uninformed about the potential long-term effects of the Obama presidency on racial attitudes in America. This paper addresses the effects of the Obama presidency using multiple original surveys of the electoral battleground states conducted from 2008 through 2012. Using a measure of racial antagonism, the analysis tests the rally and presidential-popularity cycle theories of public opinion.