Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Date of Defense

12-8-2011

Graduate Advisor

Barbara L. Graham, PhD

Committee

Stein, Lana

Babybeck, Brady

Kimball, David

Abstract

What explains the intensity of African American partisan attraction to the Democratic Party? This dissertation investigates how environmental or contextually based theory informs our understanding of partisan affiliation and political mobilization in general and specifically for African Americans. The dissertation research focuses on the extent to which geographic context at the neighborhood level influences the strength of black partisan attachment. I hypothesize that interactions at the neighborhood level affect African American partisanship; specifically, the racial composition of neighborhoods affects the strength of Democratic affiliation. The data used in this study is based on survey data of individuals residing in concentrated and non-concentrated African American neighborhoods collected in three successive waves during the 1996 presidential election in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Indianapolis, and Marion County, Indiana. Using ordered logit regression, the findings indicate that respondents showed a predicted probability of strong Democratic affiliation in neighborhoods of concentrated and sparse black populations. However, in racially diverse populations, the respondents showed decreased levels of strong Democratic affiliation. Overall, the empirical findings support the hypothesized curvilinear effect of the racial composition of neighborhoods on the strength of African American Democratic Party affiliation.

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