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March 01, 2013 10:06 AM Trying to Answer John Roberts’ Question About Racism

By Seth Masket

Chief Justice John Roberts, during arguments over the Voting Rights Act earlier in the week:

Is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than the citizens in the North?

Well, here’s what the 2008 American National Election Study had to say:

For more, see Sides, Bouie, and Valentino and Sears.

Update: Jessica Trounstine sends in this graph of several questions from the General Social Survey:


All data are from the combined 1998-2008 GSS surveys for non-Hispanic white respondents. The question wording is as follows:


  1. Work Way Up: Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, neither agree nor disagree, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with the following statement: Irish, Italians, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors. (Graph shows proportion agreeing somewhat and agreeing strongly.)

  2. No Interracial Marriage: Do you think there should be laws against marriages between (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) and whites? (Graph shows proportion responding yes.) 

  3. Blacks Shouldn’t Push: (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) shouldn’t push themselves where they’re not wanted. Do you agree strongly, agree slightly, disagree slightly, or disagree strongly? (Graph shows proportion agreeing strongly and slightly.)

  4. No Open Housing Laws: Which law would you vote for? A) One law says that a homeowner can decide for himself whom to sell his house to, even if he prefers not to sell to (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans). B) The second law says that a homeowner cannot refuse to sell to someone because of their race or color. (Graph shows proportion selecting option A.)
  5. [Originally posted at The Mischiefs of Faction]

    Seth Masket is an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.
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