Race, justice, policing, and the 2016 American presidential election

Kevin Drakulich, John Hagan, Devon Johnson, Kevin H. Wozniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Scholars have long been interested in the intersection of race, crime, justice, and presidential politics, focusing particularly on the southern strategy and the war on crime. A recent string of highly-publicized citizen deaths at the hands of police and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement have brought renewed visibility to this racially-driven intersection, and in particular to issues involving contact with and attitudes toward the police. Using data from the 2016 Pilot Study of the American National Election Studies, this study explores how contact with the criminal justice system and perceptions of police injustice shape political behavior in the modern era, with a specific emphasis on prospective participation and candidate choice in the 2016 presidential election. The results indicate that being stopped by the police - an experience that can feel invasive and unjust - may motivate political participation, while spending time in jail or prison - an experience associated with a marginalization from mainstream civic life - appears to discourage political participation. Perceiving the police as discriminatory also seems to motivate political engagement and participation, though in opposite directions for conservative versus liberal voters. In addition, perceptions of police injustice were related to candidate choice, driving voters away from Donald Trump. Affective feelings about the police were not associated with candidate choice. Perceptions of the police appear to act in part as a proxy for racial resentments, at least among potential voters in the Republican primary. In sum, the intersection of race, justice, and policing remains highly relevant in U.S. politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-33
Number of pages27
JournalDu Bois Review
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Criminal Justice Contact
  • Perceived Police Injustice
  • Policing
  • Political Participation
  • Racial Attitudes
  • Vote Choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Race, justice, policing, and the 2016 American presidential election'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this