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Erschienen in: Political Behavior 1/2020

09.08.2018 | Original Paper

Fired Up, Ready to Go: The Impact of Age, Campaign Enthusiasm, and Civic Duty on African American Voting

verfasst von: Jonathan Collins, Ray Block Jr.

Erschienen in: Political Behavior | Ausgabe 1/2020

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Abstract

Does the decision to vote signify that African Americans are “fired up” (i.e., that they are excited about the election), or is it a function of Blacks’ long-term commitment to activism (i.e., that their sense of social responsibility keeps them “ready to go” to the polls)? We argue that campaign enthusiasm and civic duty can work together, exerting an interactive influence in some contexts, and moving independently in others. Using survey data from the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Studies, we discover that both enthusiasm or civic duty matter in the sense that high levels of civic duty can substitute for a lack of enthusiasm, and that high levels of enthusiasm can substitute for the lack of a sense of civic duty. This pattern of enthusiasm and civic duty being “mutually-attenuating” conditions of Black turnout is clearest in 2016: the stronger the effect of one variable, the weaker the impact of the other, and this conditional effect is exists regardless of age. Our findings join the ongoing and spirited conversation about racial politics in the United States, and they contribute to the study of campaign enthusiasm and civic duty, two of the strongest and most reliable motivators of political behavior.
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Fußnoten
1
The Obama campaign credits Childs for the chant, several stories have been written about her (see Mindock 2016; Tau 2012), and she received an invitation to the White House after Obama won the election.
 
2
British scholar and statesman James, The 1st Viscount, Bryce makes this point eloquently in his article, “The Teachings of Civic Duty”: “To desire that the [government] we belong to not only be strong against other Powers, but also well and wisely governed, and therefore peaceful and contented, to fit ourselves for rendering to her such service as our capacities permit, to be always ready to render this service, even to our own hurt and loss—this is a form of patriotism less romantic and striking than the expulsion of a tyrant, or such a self-chosen death as that of Publius Decius or Arnold van Winkelried; but it springs from the same feelings, and it goes as truly in its degree to build up the fabric national greatness. (emphasis added).”
 
3
Throughout this paper, we will refer to “enthusiasm” when talking about the degree to which voters are “fired up.” Likewise, “civic duty” becomes the label we use to describe citizens who are “ready to go” vote. These citizens take part in politics out of a sense of responsibility.
 
5
Block (2010) argues that political involvement has two dimensions, for scholars often distinguish behavioral from psychological involvement, calling the latter “political engagement” (see Lewis-Beck et al. 2008) and the former “political participation” (see Verba et al. 1995). Therefore, we use the term political involvement since it captures both the attitudinal and action-based components of political behavior.
 
6
Block (2011) finds something similar in his research on the conditional impact of Blacks’ disillusionment with US race relations and their perceived racial interdependence (i.e., the extent to which Blacks believed that their fates are linked) on support for the controversial ideology of Black Nationalism. Specifically, the author finds that disillusionment and linked fate are offsetting pathways to ideological support: the stronger one’s disillusionment, the greater her adherence to this ideology, and the weaker the impact of her linked fate on her expression of nationalism.
 
7
Debates over the exact dates aside, scholars often count the Civil Rights Movement as the 10 years between the Brown decision in 1954 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (see McClerking and Philpot 2008; Smith 1996).
 
8
We make the data and replication code publicly available at the Dataverse page for the journal.
 
9
In 2012 survey, the unweighted proportions of the campaign enthusiasm is 0.905 (all Blacks), 0.885 (Blacks under 50), and 0.943 (Blacks 50 years old and beyond). The proportions in the 2016 data are 0.541, 0.512, and 0.593 for the total subsample, younger Blacks, and older Blacks, respectively.
 
10
The null hypothesis underlying these combinations of regression results is that variables E and D are unconditionally independent of T1 = 0, β2 = 0, and β3 = 0).
 
11
Although we focus our discussion on the main predictors, it is worth noting here that our control variables for party identification, income (in 2016 but not in 2012), and education level are statistically-significant motivators of turnout. These findings are consistent with past research on voter turnout. Our measure of linked fate also emerges as a statistically significant predictor, which is noteworthy considering that the observation that linked fate has allegedly played less of a role in recent decades as a determinant of Black turnout motivated Chong and Rogers’ (2005) research on the psychometric properties of the concept.
 
12
Following the recommendations of Berry et al. (2012), we display the conditional effect of both our theoretically-central predictors. Specifically, we plot effect of E on T and the conditional effect of D on T.
 
13
This ceiling effect is also impacted by the correlation between enthusiasm and civic duty in both 2012 (0.21) and 2016 (0.22). When enthusiasm levels are universally high in 2012, many of the enthusiasts also place high value on civic duty. This positive correlation is also consistent across age groups in 2012 (under 50: 0.19; 50 plus: 0.23) and 2016 (under 50: 0.28; 50 plus: 0.11).
 
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Metadaten
Titel
Fired Up, Ready to Go: The Impact of Age, Campaign Enthusiasm, and Civic Duty on African American Voting
verfasst von
Jonathan Collins
Ray Block Jr.
Publikationsdatum
09.08.2018
Verlag
Springer US
Erschienen in
Political Behavior / Ausgabe 1/2020
Print ISSN: 0190-9320
Elektronische ISSN: 1573-6687
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9488-y

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