Whether their slogan is “compassionate conservatism” or “hawkish liberalism,” political parties have always sought to expand their electoral coalitions by making minor adjustments to their public image. How do voters respond to these, often short-term, campaign appeals? Race, Republicans, and the Return of the Party of Lincoln is Tasha Philpot’s insightful study of how parties use racial images to shape and reshape the way citizens perceive them.
“Philpot has produced a timely, provocative, and nuanced analysis of political party image change, using the Republican Party’s attempts to recast itself as a party sensitive to issues of race with its 2000, and later 2004, national conventions as case examples. Using a mixture of experiments, focus groups, national surveys, and analyses of major national and black newspaper articles, Philpot finds that if race-related issues are important to individuals, such as blacks, the ability of the party to change its image without changing its political positions is far more difficult than it is among individuals who do not consider race-related issues important, e.g., whites. This book makes a major contribution
to our understanding of party image in general, and political parties’ use of race in particular. Bravo!”
—Paula D. McClain, Duke University
“This book does an excellent job of illuminating the linkages between racial images and partisan support. By highlighting Republican efforts to ‘play against type’ Philpot emphasizes the limits of successfully altering partisan images. That she accomplishes this in the controversial, yet salient, domain of race is no small feat. In short, by focusing on a topical issue, and by adopting a novel theoretical approach, Philpot is poised to make a significant contribution to the literatures on race and party images.”
—Vincent Hutchings, University of Michigan
Tasha S. Philpot is Assistant Professor of Government and African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.