kenneth m. miller
A new face to the race card? campaigns, racial cues, and CANDIDATE credibility
(WITH TASHA S. PHILPOT) forthcoming. Social Science Quarterly
Most studies of racial imagery in political messaging have focused on the activation of racial prejudice. This study addresses the consequences of campaigns’ shift away from negative stereotypical images of Blacks to instead use positive, inclusive images. We expect that positive racial images can be used to improve perceptions of a candidate’s perceived level of inclusivity and have an effect on overall candidate evaluations. Using an experiment embedded in the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study we find that the ability of racial images to signal the inclusivity of a candidate is determined by the candidate’s credibility on the issue, which is cued for voters by the candidate’s gender and party. In short, female Democratic candidates are most credible and thus most effective in signaling inclusivity, while male Republican candidates are least credible and least effective. Further, we find that successfully signaling racial inclusivity has potential electoral payoffs.