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Support for Greater Civil Rights for Minorities Corresponding to Political Party and Year

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Support for Greater Civil Rights for Minorities Corresponding to Political Party and Year


I will analyze voter trends to determine how voter attitudes towards promoting greater civil rights for minorities were influenced by party affiliation and whether these attitudes changed through the political turmoil of the 1960s. I believe that political party affiliations were indicative of political beliefs concerning Civil Rights, with the Democratic party leaning towards strict segregation whereas the Republican party supported desegregation. However, over time I believe that they would have conformed to the popular notion of desegregation. Contrary to my hypothesis, I found that in reality, party affiliations did not display any significant correlation with attitudes towards promoting greater civil rights. However, there was a strong correlation between year and support for greater civil equality.


I have examined the relationships distinguishing data from the 1964, 1968 and 1972 American National Election Studies’ (ANES) survey of United States voters. ANES respondents were asked about their opinion on how strictly segregation should be enforced, if at all. They were able to respond with one of four possible answer choices: desegregation, in between, strict segregation, and don’t know. I used their opinion on segregation as my dependent variable. Respondents further provided political party affiliations, specifically Democratic, Independent, Republican, and Apolitical. Political party, along with year, were my independent variables.

For my first independent variable, year, the subjects were questioned about their voting pattern and decisions the three major electoral years, 1964, 1968, and 1972. One notable trend from the time period is the quantity of responses per year. 1964 and 1968 stayed relatively similar and stagnant at approximately 1500 respondents, but 1972 had nearly 1000 more respondents, capping out just below 2.7 thousand.

My other independent variable is political party, and the respondents were asked to reveal which political party they best identified with. They could have responded in one of 4 ways; Democratic, Independent, Republican, or Apolitical. One interesting trend in the data from this period is that in the year 1968, when total responses decreased, the fall was entirely from the Democratic Party; both Republicans and Independents, along with the minute party of “Apoliticals,” had actually garnered more responses than the previous election year, 1964.

My dependent variable inquired how strongly the subjects believe segregation should be enforced out of four possible responses; desegregation, in-between, strict segregation, and don’t know. Observing the data, one important trend can be observed. In the first two elections, at least one Apolitical respondent had the opinion “don’t know,” except in the 1972 election. This is interesting because the total percentage of individuals that responded “don’t know” increased from 1.3% to 2%, but the Apolitical party voted with discretion. This is mentionable because their voter base nearly doubled the year of 1972, but the “don’t know” votes fell to 0%.


In Table 1, opinions on segregation are compared with political party affiliations during the year 1964. Here, the interaction between the two variables appears to show that segregation still had retained a strong foothold in the electoral process. With 44% of all respondents supporting partial discrimination and 23% supporting strict segregation, the scales were clearly tipped to one side. However, this same bias is not reflected when observing the party affiliations as the percentages differ by only one or two percent, which is not greater than a 5% significance value. When viewing the “Desegregation” percentages, 32.6% of Democrats voted for desegregation, but only 30% of Republicans voted for this same option. This statistic is balanced by the “Strict Segregation” category that listed 24.9% of Democrats, but only 18.6% of Republicans, as strict segregationists. The difference lies within the “in-between category,” where the Republicans held an 8% lead. This data from 1964 suggests there were inconsistencies between the parties, so no strong correlations could be extrapolated from the data sets.

In Table 2, we observe opinions on segregation between political party’s during the electoral year of 1968. Here the two variables show that strict segregation lost significant footing among its voter base. The percent of individuals supporting partial discrimination grew 3.5% from 44% to 47.5%, however the percent of “Strict Segregationists” steeply declined 7% from 23% to 16%. When observing party affiliations, no discernable trends can be detected. Democrats lead the Republican vote by 8% when referring to desegregation, but lead in strict segregation by 4.5%. This graphically would represent dual peaks, one on either end of the spectrum. The Democratic distribution instead focuses most of its voter base centrally with 12% greater “In-between” voters than the Republican ticket. 1968 further shows a 2.5% increase in the total number of individuals who responded with “in-between” opposed to 1964, suggesting there was a transition period where many segregationists reevaluated their morals. Despite the overall differences in the year of 1968, both those who identify as Republican as well as those who identify as Democrat show no outstanding differences in general voting trends.

In Table 3, the correlation between opinions apropos segregation with political party affiliations in the 1972 year can be observed. When we view the overall difference between Table 3, and the original Table 1, we can see that the total number of strict segregationists has fallen 10% from 22.7% to 12.5%. This is reflected by the desegregation side which has increased from 31.7% to 40.9%, a 9% differential. When discussing the specifics of Democratic to Republican affiliations, we still cannot see statistics that support one party. Looking at the “Desegregation” row, Democrats lead by almost 5%, just under the significance level. In the “In-between” section, the Republican party has a 5% lead, and finally, the strict segregation row is perfectly tied up at 12.6%. Cumulatively these factors do not associate one party to one opinion on civil rights.


The preceding analysis indicates that there was no significant difference between Democratic opinions on segregation and Republican opinions on segregation. This conflicts with my original expectation



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