Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-06-01 20:18Z by Steven

Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns

Temple University Press
January 2011
272 pages
6 x 9
38 tables, 23 halftones
paper ISBN: 978-1-43990-276-9
cloth: ISBN: 978-1-43990-275-2
e-Book ISBN: 978-1-43990-277-6

Charlton D. McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication
New York University

Stephen M. Caliendo, Professor of Political Science
North Central College in Naperville, Illinois

Why, when, and how often candidates use race appeals, and how the electorate responds

In our evolving American political culture, whites and blacks continue to respond very differently to race-based messages and the candidates who use them. Race Appeal examines the use and influence such appeals have on voters in elections for federal office in which one candidate is a member of a minority group.

Charlton McIlwain and Stephen Caliendo use various analysis methods to examine candidates who play the race card in political advertisements. They offer a compelling analysis of the construction of verbal and visual racial appeals and how the news media covers campaigns involving candidates of color.

Combining rigorous analyses with in-depth case studies-including an examination of race-based appeals in the historic 2008 presidential election—Race Appeal is a groundbreaking work that represents the most extensive and thorough treatment of race-based appeals in American political campaigns to date.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. The Political Landscape of Race-Based Appeals
  • Part I The Empirical Evidence on Race Appeals
    • 1. Producing Race Appeal: The Political Ads of White and Minority Candidates
    • 2. The Advantages and Disadvantages of Deploying Racist Appeals among Black and White Voters
    • 3. Neither Black nor White: The Fruitless Appeal to Racial Authenticity
    • 4. Competing Novelties: How Newspapers Frame the Election Campaigns of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans
  • Part II: Case Studies in Race Appeal
    • 5. Racializing Immigration Policy: Issue Ads in the 2006 Election
    • 6. Harold Ford Jr., Mel Martinez, and Artur Davis: Case Studies in Racially Framed News
    • 7. Barack Obama, Race-Based Appeals, and the 2008 Presidential Election
  • Epilogue. Racialized Campaigns: What Have We Learned, and Where Do We Go from Here?
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
Tags: , , , , ,

Winning the Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-06-01 18:45Z by Steven

Winning the Race

NYU Alumni Magazine
Fall 2012

Andrea Crawford

As the first African-American president runs for reelection, researchers examine the subliminal influence of political ads

 In 1990, longtime North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms was trailing challenger Harvey Gantt, an African-American who supported affirmative action, when the Helms campaign produced the infamous “hands” commercial. As the camera focused on the hands of a white person holding a letter, the narrator said: “You needed that job, and you were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority.” Helms went on to win the election.

In another famous appeal, an ad for the 1988 Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush featured the menacing mug shot of convicted murderer Willie Horton. The spot explained how the African-American had committed assault while on furlough from a Massachusetts prison—a program supported by Michael Dukakis, the state’s governor and the Democratic presidential candidate. Bush won the presidency in a landslide.

It was into this environment that Charlton McIlwain, associate professor of media, culture, and communication at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, came of age. These types of appeals clearly work, he thought, and he set out to determine how and why. Around the same time, David Amodio was first exploring research that showed self-avowed egalitarians actually exhibited unconscious biases. Now an NYU associate professor of psychology and neural science, he began his career asking how such automatic types of prejudice could exist in opposition to one’s beliefs. Until recently, these kinds of questions were complicated by a reliance on often-flawed self-reports—people simply feel uncomfortable admitting bias and are sometimes not even conscious of it. But today, McIlwain and Amodio have come together in a timely pursuit. As the first African-American president runs for reelection, they are investigating the power of racial appeals in political ads by turning to neuroscience…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

From deracialization to racial distinction: interpreting Obama’s successful racial narrative

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-08-13 21:01Z by Steven

From deracialization to racial distinction: interpreting Obama’s successful racial narrative

Social Semiotics
Volume 23, Issue 1 (2013)
pages 119-145
DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2012.707039

Charlton McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication
New York University

While many scholars attribute Barack Obama’s success in the 2008 presidential election to his so-called deracialized campaign strategy, I argue that Obama constructed a persuasive message strategy that was fundamentally based on race. I argue that in pursuing what I call a racial distinction strategy, Obama mobilized race differently than previous Black candidates running in White-voter electoral majorities. Specifically, Obama’s racial distinction strategy constructed a seamless racial narrative – deployed through constellations of subtle racial language and imagery – incorporating Obama’s own personal biography within a broader narrative of the nation, specifically a narrative of American progress. The fact that Obama employed a racial distinction strategy, and the fact that he succeeded in doing so, sheds new light on, and leads us to reconsider the veracity of popular political theories such as post-Blackness, post-racialism and deracialization, along with the general ideology of colorblindness.

Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States was historic, not only because he achieved something no other Black American had accomplished, but because he attained the political heights many believed no Black American could. Few Black American candidates have been elected to federal office, especially when elections require support from White voters (Lublin 1997). Black candidates’ fear of White voters mobilizing racial prejudice against them has historically prevented Black candidates from even attempting to run in campaign contests where Blacks and other minorities do not comprise the majority of voters. However, Obama not only believed he could win, despite the historical racial odds, but also demonstrated that America was indeed ready and willing to elect a Black president.

Many explanations of Obama’s success focus on his ability to sidestep a variety of racial attacks throughout the primary and general election. Carly Fraser, for instance, writes “As a post-black candidate. Obama did not once make reference to the historic fact that he would be the first African American to have a real chance of winning the democratic nomination.” Fraser continues, saying that race was .. repeatedly acknowledged by the media, his [Obama’s] opponents, his surrogates, and eventually by the candidate himself” (Fraser 2009, 17). Similarly, Manning Marable writes, “Obama minimized the issue of race, presenting a race-neutral politics that reached out to White Republicans and independents. Yet despite his..

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: ,