Mackenzie Israel-Trummel

Department of Political Science

Race, Gender, and American Voter Behavior


Race and gender were political issues in the United States well before women and people of color gained the right to compete for political office, but the diversity of candidates campaigning in the present day has reinforced their relevance. Although the election of Barack Obama was a watershed event in American racial politics, the current U.S. Senate has no elected African-American members and less than ten percent of congressional representatives are black. Progress on gender equality has also been slow. While a record number of women won elections to Congress in 2012, they still only comprise approximately eighteen percent of the legislative branch. Effective representation of all groups is not merely a function of the demographics of those in office, yet it is evident that obstacles persist in the quest for political equality. My dissertation research draws on an interdisciplinary literature on intersectionality to understand how race and gender stereotypes and prejudice are conditional on one another and when they matter in electoral contests. Specifically, I will answer the following questions: How do racial and gender animus affect vote choice, and particularly, how is prejudice contingent on intersecting identities? Does racial prejudice disadvantage both men and women candidates of color? For which respondents are these negative attitudes most salient in their voting calculus?