Racial Voting Patterns in the South: An Analysis of Major Elections from 1960 to 1977 in Five Cities Academic Article uri icon


  • Conflicting views have been advanced about racial voting patterns in the South. One contention is that blacks can most easily align with affluent whites rather than with middle or low income whites. A second argument maintains the opposite—that southern blacks' natural allies are more likely to be working class and poor whites. A third view is that one should expect to find shifting electoral coalitions across racial lines. The authors test these hypotheses with data from 109 major electoral contests in five large southern cities. Findings indicate no consistent pattern of biracial voting exists because several factors influence voting alignments in given elections. These include the traditional patterns of racial politics in given localities; the type of election that is being contested; and the race of the candidates themselves. With regard to the latter two points: it is clear, for example, that in partisan contests black-backed candidates do best with low income whites, unless the candidates are black, in which case it is most difficult to get poor whites to vote for any black office seeker. In light of these findings, the simple models of racial voting are deficient because they fail to specify the factors that influence voting patterns in particular contexts. © 1978, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Murray, R., & Vedlitz, A.

citation count

  • 18

publication date

  • September 1978