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Religion and Presidential Politics in Florida: A List Experiment. Stephen C. Craig James G. Kane Kenneth D. Wald University of Florida Department of Political Science P.O. Box 117325 Gainesville, FL 32611-7325

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Religion and Presidential Politics in Florida: A List Experiment

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religion and presidential politics in florida a list experiment

Religion and Presidential Politics in Florida:A List Experiment

Stephen C. Craig

James G. Kane

Kenneth D. Wald

University of Florida

Department of Political Science

P.O. Box 117325

Gainesville, FL 32611-7325

Note: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2001 Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA. A revised version will appear in Social Science Quarterly (forthcoming 2003).


August 8, 2000:Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut)First Jewish Nominee for National Office by a Major PartyOther Comparable Firsts:Al Smith – 1928John Kennedy – 1960Geraldine Ferraro - 1984

research opportunity rare chance to test theories about
Research Opportunity: Rare Chance to Test Theories about
  • Intergroup Relations Generally
  • Openness of Political System to Aspirants from Minority Religious Groups
why is this a research issue
Why is this a research issue?

Danger: Potential for Anti-Jewish Backlash And Yet…. there is strong evidence that Lieberman enhanced the Democratic ticket in 2000

  • Energized a significant constituency
  • Attractive personal qualities
  • Little evidence of anti-Jewish feeling
jews in the united states today statistically overrepresented as
Jews in the United States Today Statistically Overrepresented As:


Elected Officials

Political Contributors

Campaign Activists

Likely Primary and General Election Voters

lieberman s assets in 2000
Lieberman’s Assets in 2000:

Moderate New Democrat

Moral Prophylactic for Party

Plaudits for Gore as Bold and Exciting

Electoral Key in Florida


Gallup Poll:“If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [religion/race/gender], would you vote for that person?”

on the other hand
On the other hand . . .

Prior research suggests that abstract sentiments in favor of intergroup harmony often mask antipathy or reluctance to grant benefits to specific minorities.


Reasons for Doubting Sincerity of Answers to Gallup-Type Questions: Social Desirability- often prompts survey respondents to disguise negative feelings toward members of other races lest they be perceived negatively by interviewers


Prior Research:a. Overreporting by whites of willingness to support black candidates of their party (Citrin, Green & Sears 1990; Finkel, Guterbock & Borg 1991; Howell & Sims 1994).


b. Moskowitz and Stroh (1994) found whites who resented blacks were more likely to attribute to black candidates negative personality traits and incompatible positions on policy issues.


c. Sigelman, Sigelman, Walkosz & Nitz (1995) found that the negative stereotypes often applied by majority-group voters to hypothetical minority-group candidates tended to reduce support for those candidates. Granberg (1985) found similar stereotyping based on religion.


d. Several studies using the list experiment methodology (Kuklinski, Cobb & Gilens 1997; Kuklinski, Sniderman et al. 1997; Sniderman & Carmines 1997) have documented the persistence of prejudicial feelings - including in Florida (Kane 1997-98) against blacks despite the declines in overt racism registered by traditional indicators.


Research Puzzle: Is the expressed willingness of Americans to consider Jewish candidates based on their individual merits a genuine belief likely to be backed by action – or an artifact of social desirability?Research Question: Does a similar dynamic operate when the stimulus is a Jewish candidate for national office?

measurement the list experiment
Measurement: The List Experiment
  • Adapted from Studies of Racial Attitudes (Kuklinski, Sniderman, Carmines Etc.)
  • Representative Sample Randomly Divided into Equivalent Half-Samples

Question: “Now I’m going to read you four (five) things that sometimes make people angry or upset. After I read all four statements, just tell me how many of them upset you. I don’t want to know which ones, just how many.”

baseline group
Baseline Group:

“One: the way gasoline prices keep going up.”

“Two: professional athletes getting million-plus salaries.”

“Three: requiring seat belts be used when driving.”

“Four: large corporations polluting the environment.”

test group
Test Group:

Study 1: Likely Voters (Florida), October 2000, N=606

“Five: a Jewish candidate running for vice president.”

Study 2: Registered Voters (Florida), May/June 2002, N=601

“Five: a Jewish candidate running for president.”

Estimating Percentage of Respondents Who Are Angry Or Upset at the Idea of a Jewish Candidate for President or Vice President:
  • Calculate Mean Number of Anger-Generating Statements for Both Baseline and Test Conditions
  • Subtract the Former from the Latter
  • Multiply by 100

Example: 2.71 mean for test group minus 2.44 percent for baseline=0.27 x 100 =27 percent angry or upset

pros and cons of the method
Pros and Cons of the Method
  • Advantage: Social Desirability Element Removed by Disguising Intent
  • Disadvantage: Can Only Estimate Aggregate Level Of Negative Group Affect, No Analysis of Individual Respondents Possible
group differences greater negative affect expected among
Group DifferencesGreater Negative Affect Expected Among:

Socially Marginal (Less Educated, Poorer, Older, Less Urban)

Evangelical Protestants




caveats about study
Caveats about Study:

a. Our intent is not measure general anti-Semitism, but rather the degree to which anti-Jewish views may have been activated by the Lieberman nomination, or by the prospect of Lieberman (or any other Jewish candidate) running for president in the future.

b. We have no base of comparison for any negative feelings that are observed; that is, would similar results obtain for women, blacks, evangelical Christians, and others?

c. Small survey N’s mean that few group differences are statistically significant.

d. Different sampling frames for the two surveys (likely voters in 2000, registered voters in 2002)

Conclusion:Negative affect for Jewish candidates in not widespread. It does exist however, and could be decisive in a close race.