Miami University political science professor Christopher Kelley said as Americans become more politically polarized, “it has pushed ideology to the top of what people regard as the most important thing to look for in selecting a candidate.” That is why, he said, candidates have trouble finding many swing or independent voters because most voters “have been pushed to the left or right.”
“If voters are looking now for candidates who are ideologically pure — regardless of a candidate’s age, sex, color or ethnicity — then those candidates have to run and govern on a platform of no compromise,” Kelley said. “And at the heart, our system is built on compromise.”
Bai said the research shows that citizens’ prejudices are “more nuanced than many people think” when it comes to political preferences.
“Overall, the perceived ideology of the candidate determines whether the candidate will be popular among racists and sexists,” said Bai. “Whether the candidate is Black or white, a man or a woman, does not seem to matter.”
University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven published a similar survey several years ago, and the bottom line is “politics is not skin deep.”
“People want to vote for candidates who think like they do more than candidates who look like they do,” he said. “You can see this basic principle in the presidential race.”
Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee because of deep support from African American voters - and he won those votes not because of what he looks like but because of who he is.
Niven’s study published in 2015 was on the response of African-American voters to Republican African-American candidates.
“Overwhelmingly, voters supported candidates based on their party and their ideas rather than their race,” Niven said.
“Voting patterns are powerfully shaped by people’s assessments of the racial sympathies of each party,” he said. “What this (2020) study does suggest, however, is that for most voters, the race and gender of a candidate are less important than their party and ideas.”