Are the Covered States “More Racist” than Other States?

Christopher Elmendorf and Douglas Spencer, Election Law Blog, March 4, 2013

During oral argument last week in Shelby County v. Holder, the constitutional challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts asked, “[I]s it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North?”  Solicitor General Verrilli responded, “It is not, and I do not know the answer to that . . . .”

This post offers a preliminary answer to the Chief Justice’s question, using recent data.  Our initial results suggest that the coverage formula of Section 5 does a remarkably good job of differentiating states according to the racial attitudes of their nonblack citizens.

{snip}  For the results reported here we use explicit stereotyping, as it remains disputed whether racial resentment measures capture prejudice as opposed to conservatism, and it is uncertain whether implicit bias predicts political behavior.

We created a binary measure of stereotyping that roughly captures whether a person is more prejudiced toward blacks than is typical of nonblack Americans.  Our data source is the 2008 National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES), which asked non-black respondents to rate their own racial group and blacks in terms of intelligence, trustworthiness, and work effort, on a scale of 0-100.  On average respondents ranked their own group about 15 points above blacks on each trait.  We coded respondents as holding “prejudiced” views with respect to blacks on a particular trait if the difference between their rating of their own racial group and their rating of blacks exceeded the national mean difference for the trait.  To create an overall measure of prejudice for each respondent, we summed the number of traits on which the respondent was more prejudiced than the national mean.  Finally, we converted this sum into a binary variable, coding as “prejudiced overall” those respondents who exceeded the national mean with respect to at least two of the three traits.[1]


We provide two estimates of the proportion of adult, nonblack residents in each state who are “prejudiced overall.”  The first is based on simple disaggregation of the large NAES dataset (N=19,325).  This method should work pretty well for the largest states but may yield unreliable estimates for smaller states, which contribute relatively few respondents to the NAES sample.  For the second estimate we use multilevel regression with post-stratification (MRP), a recently developed statistical technique that has been shown to yield remarkably accurate estimates of state-level public opinion. We model prejudice as a function of individual-level covariates (sex, race, age, and education) and a set of state-level predictors (black population, percent of blacks in poverty, segregation, and income inequality).

Using either technique we find a strong positive correlation between Section 5 “covered status” and anti-black prejudice, but with MRP the correlation is truly stunning:


The MRP model suggests that the six fully covered states in the South are, by our measure, six of the seven most prejudiced in the nation.  The two fully covered states that rank lower on the list, Arizona and Alaska, are presumably covered for reasons other than discrimination against blacks (anti-Latino discrimination in Arizona, and anti-Native discrimination in Alaska).


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  • Postjudiced, not prejudiced.

    There, I fixed it.

    • Exactly! I was the ultimate liberal…back when I was 17 without a clue nor a plan.
      Now, I have lived most of my adult life in the south, and got my slap in the face when I saw black racism go unpunished, and our white leaders turning pale with fear just at the slightest accusation of being a racist.

    • Eagle_Eyed

      It would be interesting to align the thoughts Southern whites have about blacks with the truth. For instance, what percentage of whites in Mississippi would answer yes to the following question: “Are blacks, on average, more violent than non-blacks?”

      It would certainly be higher than the white percentage in Vermont. Of course this question is empirically testable–just look violent crime statistics.

      • GB101

        Jared Taylor’s “Paved with Good Intentions” makes the interesting point that Jesse Jackson got the largest percent of white votes in states with the smallest percent of black residents. He believed that the reason was that in Vermont white people formed their opinion of blacks from the positive portrayal of blacks by the media. Mississippians got their info first hand and unfiltered.

        • Kyle Rogers at CofCC (he posts here on AR on occasion) noted that in the 2008 Democrat Primaries and caucuses, Obama tended to win states that were lily white or heavily black, while Hillary Clinton won the states whose black-white racial mixes were close to the national average.

          A lily white state doesn’t have many blacks and therefore no Patterson’s First Axiom can apply, ergo the dopey inexperienced whites all gushed over the Magic Negro. A heavily black state is also a state with hardly any white Democrats precisely because of PFA (and other factors), so the Democrat voter base in those states is heavily black, ergo Obama wins. A state with B-W mix close to the national average isn’t black enough to preclude the existence of white Democrats, but is black enough to where whites have enough experience with blacks, ergo its white Democrats voted HRC as an anti-Obama anti-black racial statement, even though they wouldn’t vote Republican generally.

        • evilsandmich

          I personally can attest to that (from that excellent book). I grew up in an area where the closest black enclave was at least a thirty minute drive away. We were taught at school about all the multi-culti mumbo jumbo and black excuses (I’m reminded of a scene in Fresh Prince where the white students knew all about black history while the Will Smith character knew none).
          When I moved to Cleveland though, I learned the truth behind the lies (many just lies of omission).

  • bigone4u

    An ability to recognize and acknowlege reality when you see it is not prejudice no matter how much liberals say it is.

  • The__Bobster

    The MRP model suggests that the six fully covered states in the South are, by our measure, six of the seven most prejudiced in the nation.

    Familiarity breeds contempt…..and an honest assessment of the other.

    So what we can draw from this is that if we don’t lie about racial differences, the boot of the federal government will come down on our necks.

  • Spartacus

    Every liberal on earth should be forced by law to live in Africa for a few months. Those who survive would become instant-nazis .

    • bigone4u

      I understand your point and wish I could agree with you, but I was reading about Amy Biehl, the young liberal white girl who left the USA to serve Africans back in the 80s. She was brutally murdered by a black mob, but her father lobbied for her murderers to be released from prison and when they were he became friends with them. Liberal mental illness is sometimes so deep as to be incurable insanity.

      • Spartacus

        Well then, hopefully as as many of them would get killed as possible. Race traitors are a much bigger threat to our race than any non-whites, jews included.

      • Sick of it

        Anyone who would become friends with their daughter’s murderer has a screw loose for sure.

        • KevinPhillipsBong

          If he taught his daughter that nonsense then he must be partially culpable for her death.

        • WhiteGuyInJapan

          That story gives me a stomachache reading it.

      • evilsandmich

        I’m reminded of a bit from Gulag Archipelago where even after being sent to the gluag, Soviet believers figured that Stalin must have made some sort of mistake of some sort and that if he ever found out about it he would straighten it out.
        Liberalism shows what it takes to make a religion into a cult.

        • MikeofAges

          Other upon reflection concluded that their punishment was justified. Some of those executed by the Stalin regime justified their own liquidation as necessary for the eventual success of the revolution.

      • vladdy1

        And what stinks about that is, that he can feel good about himself now, even as he makes the area more dangerous for everybody else. Now isn’t that worth it? If your loved one was killed by someone this lovely couple made “friends” with, would you sue?

    • That’s like wishing for Ron Paul to go to “libertarian paradise” Somalia for a year and thinking he’d come back not a libertarian anymore. People who hold so tenaciously to an ideology will find a way to credit it for anything that goes right and blame the lack of it for anything that goes wrong.

      A white liberal who is dyed in the wool enough who goes to Africa or the American diaspora will wind up blaming all their problems on a lack of liberalism.

      • Nathanwartooth

        Somalia is anarchist and it’s run by Africans.

        Libertarian mixed with race realism isn’t even half as insane as full blown Reason TV/magazine libertarianism.

        • Libertarian mixed with race realism is sane as those who are so mixed let race realism take the lead in their own minds. The reason it’s sane is because of the presence of race realism.

        • Steven Bannister

          There is nothing insane about libertarianism, it is essentially “constitutionalism” the very same philosophy endorsed by America’s Founding Fathers. It works perfectly well – as long as it’s practiced within a relatively homogeneous nation that has a strong sense of national identity.

          The insanity is trying to extend a libertarian philosophy outward to the whole world and expect it to work. Yes, a libertarian nation can trade freely and fairly with others – but not at the expense of it’s own people.

          Libertarianism NEEDS nationalism to work.

          • Devil’s advocate:

            Any libertarianism that relies on nationalism to work and is tempered such that its tendencies don’t wreck the underlying social, ethnic and racial cohesion of the society in which it is practiced and sheltered within the cocoon of “a homogeneous nation that has a strong sense of national identity” isn’t really libertarianism, especially today’s definition of libertarianism.

            Today’s libertarianism is so dyed-in-the-wool and shot through with open borders and multiracialist ideology that I wouldn’t want to say that I am a libertarian even if I was a relatively pure one. Hell, I’m loath to admit that I have some libertarian tendencies, just because I don’t want to be associated with the race traitor crackpots.

          • Sick of it

            That’s why I don’t go with the libertarian label. I fit more with the Founders on everything and they, quite frankly, cared about this country first and foremost.

            I’ve already had an ideological argument with a pure libertarian…his ideas are a bit nuts. But wtf, one can say that libertarianism as it is today came from the libertarian socialists like Voline.

      • JohnEngelman

        People who hold so tenaciously to an ideology will find a way to credit it for anything that goes right and blame the lack of it for anything that goes wrong.

        – Question Diversity

        I love that sentence. It belongs in “Bartlett’s Quotations.”

  • Jefferson

    If this artcle was true than Chicongo for example would be full of right wing racially aware Whites and North Dakota would be mostly made up of left wing Whites who think Blacks are the greatest thing God ever created.

    • I’ve wondered why Patterson’s First Axiom works in Mississippi but not in Chicago. Then the Sailer Correlation (circa 0.9 regression coefficient between TFR per white woman slash avg #/yrs married for white women 18-44 and % vote Republican) provided me with the answer. PFA explains a lot, but not everything. Mississippi’s whites comprise more nuclear traditional white families, while the whites of Chicago the city proper tend to be anything but (singles, young, LGBTQMIAPDLOLPLPLTH, childless married couples, etc.).

      It’s easier for white people to be in the racial reactionary business when they’re also in the business of creating and rearing brand new white people.

      • vladdy1

        Working out those initials in my head, Heh. Let’s see…after the infamous “questioning,” I guess it could be “misunderstood,” apathetic,” “pissed,” “damned,” and then of course “laughing out loud.” I’ll leave the rest to the imagination of y’all.

        • MIAPD is part of the official acronym. I don’t know what M means, but the rest is Intersexual, Asexual, Pansexual and Demisexual. Laugh now, because the Supreme Court will be ruling on such curious “pursuits” some time in next 5-10 years. Because…civil rights.

          PLPLTH was an internet chatroom silly time acronym that had no meaning.

          The holy grail of the alternate orientation community is an acronym that includes every letter in the alphabet.

    • anew

      On both graphs, Illinois comes out as more “prejudiced” than North Dakota.

      • Jefferson

        Than why is Illinois so liberal ?

        • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

          Outside of Chicago, it’s not. But the Whites on the outside see what goes on in Chicago at pretty close range.

      • anew

        If Illinois whites were their own state, it would be a swing state; it would have gone slightly to Obama in ’08, slightly to Romney in ’12.

        To the extent that its whites do lean left, you have to understand the nature of Chicago. White Chicagoland is like any other great lakes town; it still has a large white working-class, it is relatively unionized, it has a German plurality, and has a lot of white ethnics who built up a Democratic machine generations ago that remains very powerful; these four traits all reinforce one another, and pull Chicago politics to the left.

        North Dakota also has a somewhat socialist history, but it is also the most church-going state in the Union, and I guess that over-rides all else at the Presidential level.

  • brengunn

    So most of the states towards the lower end(less racist) are predominantly white, while states with large black populations are towards the top(more racist). What explanations do the liberal media have for such findings other than the typical ‘Southerners are racist hillbillies’ canard? There must be enquiring minds in Universities who wonder why such statistical trends occur without lazily accepting the orthodoxy.

    Not knowing the northern states with high populations of blacks, how do they fare? I see DC is low on the first chart but much higher up on the second, supposedly more accurate chart. Michigan is fairly high on both, I’m sure that is something to do with Detroit, so too is Illinois, which must be down to Chicago.

    • NM156

      Southern states have the highest percentages of Blacks. Their metro areas, most likely, do not, however.

    • Sick of it

      Enquiring minds in universities? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
      Sorry, I’ve seen the complete opposite in my own experiences.

      • evilsandmich

        Even if there were, they’re given to 1984-esque crimethink self correction. I’ve seen it in action myself, it’s rather disturbing. You’ll be having a regular conversation with a university type and the subject of black schools or ‘youths’ or something will come up and you can hear a cassette player kick off in their brain so that they can properly repeat come PC canard.

        • David Ashton

          Yes, “cassette in the brain” – perfect image.

        • Sick of it

          Quite a few are quick to respond as you say, others don’t want to talk about it, etc. But beyond racial relations, I’ve seen so many college students simply not participate in critical thinking. They accept everything told to them, usually without question. No debate over ideas. I’ve found myself the sole debater on so many occasions.

          • Sick of it

            The really sad thing is that I’ve noticed this same pattern of behavior in classes with friendly professors, no matter their particular worldview. They weren’t bothered by a bit of debate.

  • kjh64

    “The MRP model suggests that the six fully covered states in the South are, by our measure, six of the seven most prejudiced in the nation.”
    They’re not “prejudiced”, they’re “experienced”. After having lived around large numbers of Blacks up close and personal, they get their views from experience.

  • JohnEngelman

    The civil rights legislation passed during the 1960s was forced on whites who had extensive experience with blacks by whites who had little experience.

    Racial prejudice is usually based on previous experience. It is seldom the result of ignorant delusions passed down through the generations.

    • Sick of it

      Black racial prejudice is pretty extreme, considering they are more likely to be hired than we are for the sole reason that they are black, thus meeting a quota. People bend over backwards to please them so as not to seem racist. They get a LOT of benefits simply for being black…yet possess a visceral hatred of white people.

  • Romulus

    I’ll help them solve a little a little riddle. On a scale of 0-100 I PUT ours at 110 and groids at zero. I couldn’t give a hoot whether their condi or miles davis. I had about as much as I can stand of heating about them.

  • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

    Two demographically extreme states illustrate American whites’ “knowledge gap” as regards black capabilities and propensities.

    Mississippi’s electorate is 60 percent white, 37 percent black. White Mississippians’ views on blacks are derived from direct, day-to-day contact.

    Vermont is 96 percent white, 1 percent black. Vermonters’ knowledge of blacks derives from the rare brief encounter and from images promoted by Hollywood and the news media.

    Thus Northerners’ severe “knowledge deficit” precludes thoughtful decision-making about black behavior and inclinations.

    • Funruffian

      Like I’ve heard before, “A person’s tolerance for Blacks is inversely proportionate to their distance from them.

      • Juan Outtamany

        directly proportionate

    • evilsandmich

      Some generous section 8 housing and Somali resettlement in Vermont should clear that right up; though even for all their idiocy I’m not really hip to ruining a small, white enclave to make a political point.

      • Camielle Belle Poole

        Yeah please don’t. I like going there for the peace and quiet away from the city.

  • Martel

    So how do we get all these well informed whites to the next Amren conference?

  • GB101

    The NYT had an article that seemed seriously to suggest this poll as a trigger for preclearance. The Supreme Court said no to voting data from 41 years ago, so the NYT says replace it with a study showing prevalence of thought crimes.

  • kjh64

    Yes, Amy Biehl’s father was shown shaking the hands of her killers. How pathetic is that. I’m sure he pats himself on the back about what a wonderful, tolerant person and great dad he is. Well, he is a rotten person and father. His daughter likely never would have been killed if her father had done his job instead of raising her the way he did. It’s a parent’s job to teach their kids the ways of the world and he failed miserably on that. He also heard the testimony including how Amy screamed in pain and saw her killers laugh in the courtroom. What a lousy father to shake their hands, shame on him.

    • Spartacus

      Race-traitor scum like him aren’t fit to be soap !

  • Joseph

    This is true. At least the colorful people are acting rationally -in this regard. They are feathering their own nest by demanding/supporting liberal programs. The leftist whites -other than those at the top, are acting in a manner counter to their own best interest and that of their offspring. It is a madness.

  • MikeofAges

    Don’t look at how people vote, look at how they vote with their feet. One group of people worth looking at are the “hippies” and counterculturists of the 60s and 70s. This represented a voluntary affinity group, but it numbered enough people to have an actual demographic impact on society. As a side note, the “hippies” were the last significant population of whites to move into California and actually leave a demographic imprint on the state.

    When these people looked for new places to create communities, they looked for places that were well-governed, peaceful, and which had a sufficient tax base to support amenities like good colleges and good lower education. Without a blink of the eye or a whit of cognitive dissonance they declared such states as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont to be their anointed paradises. along with select areas in other states, such as the North Coast of California, and college towns generally . What did all of these areas have in common aside from their frequent existing traditions of artiness and bohemianism? Well, they had, among other things, small minority populations.

    Any surprise here?

  • In a way, that’s precisely what would happen. Not because our people would act like Somalians, but because the open borders/multiracialist verve of modern liberTARDian ideology (matching the same in modern liberalism and modern neo-conservatism) would mean the borders are wide open for Somalians to waltz right in.

    Because…”We’ll find a place for you.” — Rand Paul

  • WR_the_realist

    In other words, people who tell the truth are the most prejudiced. It is a fact that U.S. blacks have an average IQ of 85 while whites have an average IQ of 100. So to be counted as “unprejudiced” you must either be ignorant of the facts or willing to lie.

  • WR_the_realist

    I can’t help but notice that the “least prejudiced” states have relatively few blacks. So their citizens get their primary knowledge of blacks from television. If I were naive enough to allow television to determine my views I’d be unprejudiced too.

    • If you check the big cities of ‘least prejudiced’ states, you will find the same racial divide you do in the South.

      Chicago is racially divided. So is Philadelphia. So is NY. And Gary and Detroit.

      Southern whites vote more racially cuz blacks do the same thing. In northern states where most people were white, elections tend to be issue-oriented than race-oriented. But if Minnesota had lots of blacks and they all voted black, most whites would feel pressure to vote white. It’s just how it goes.

  • Yep, no racial tensions in Detroit and St. Louis.

  • This article is prejudiced by Jewish supremacism. Jews control the media and use whatever terminology they can cook up. Btw, look at Jewish behavior in Israel. They’ve long supported a rightwing government to keep the Arabs down. I guess it’s okay for Jews to practice apartheid. Even NY Times goes along with that. Jews are so full of it.

  • kjh64

    I don’t know.

  • Camielle Belle Poole

    Unfortunately, this isn’t even wrong. The individual I’m dating (a white male) and I were discussing his views on black people in general. (Mind you, he’s from Alabama and I’m from New York City though my parents migrated from the South as well.) He acknowledged having some very racist opinions, by which I was taken aback (and very confused) for a variety of reasons. I initially chalked it up to his upbringing (he’s from the South, clearly he doesn’t know better, he must’ve been raised by awful people, etc.), but then we discussed his feelings in depth and some of his interactions with black people would definitely turn anyone off. I don’t think I would be very trusting either. Then I considered the idea that, if all of the interactions one has with a particular group are negative, why should one have ANY positive opinions about that group? And that really goes BOTH ways, people. Much of black racism is based in what we are taught as youths. We are taught that whites are evil and trying to keep up the White Christian Male Power Structure. We are taught about slavery and Jim Crowe. I don’t know whether or not predominantly black schools mention abolitionists or that the Civil War was more about states rights than slavery. There is a passed down bitterness. All they know is what they are taught. I’m not excusing it, I’m explaining it. Many young black people only have two constant white figures in their lives: Teachers and Police. Neither of them are very respected and/or trusted.

    All of that being said, I’m not even sure it’s necessarily racist to have a negative opinion about another group based on experience and observation. EVERY race with pretty much no exception does things that bug me, including black people. Some lists are longer than others. Do I judge the individual on the group? No. I’m willing to give absolutely everyone an opportunity. But stereotypes are around because enough people have proven them true.