In their new book, Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior
(Princeton University Press, 2020),
political scientists Ismail K. White
and Chryl N. Laird
explore the political behavior of African American voters in the United States and examine extensive data to determine how this particular group of voters have operated as a fairly unified voting block over the course of many election cycles. The research is fascinating, delineating the ideological fissures within the African-American community while also analyzing the voting patterns of African Americans and their inclination to remain loyal Democratic voters. Steadfast Democrats
spends time examining the historical roots of this unified voting behavior, noting the roles that slavery and segregation played in creating the tightly connected communities in which many African Americans live and work.
White and Laird pay particular attention to how these connections operate in terms of norms in political behavior, building on linked fate theories, but distinguishing differences in terms of understanding how ideology and political behavior operate in context of partisan loyalty. White and Laird explain these dynamics through their theory of racialized social constraint
and they build their research from survey data about voting patterns and behaviors, while adding in supplemental, experimental research to test these dynamics and norm enforcement. The research is not necessarily limited to black political behavior in the U.S., and the conclusion of Steadfast Democrats
takes the theoretical framework of norm enforcement and community unity and examines other groups in the United States that operate along similar patterns and dynamics.
is a window into understanding why and how African American voters in the United States remain a strongly unified voting bloc, even among many differences of opinion, a diversity of perspective, and a variety of lived experiences.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics
(University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America
(Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).