As the GOP establishment continues to signal that it is trying to gain more favor among America’s minority voters, a new poll finds that the gap between white and nonwhite Republicans has been growing steadily in recent years.
A Gallup poll released Monday found that white Americans identified as Republicans between 9 and 14 percentage points more than nonwhites in each of the past four years. The margins, according to the polling agency, have created a 61-point racial and ethnic gap in party preference, higher than any point in the past two decades.
While left-leaning publications might be quick to insinuate that the GOP’s racial gap is driven by conservatives’ distrust of a black President, the polling agency reports that there is no evidence to support the point.
Over the past two decades, whites have tended to favor the Republican Party and nonwhites have overwhelmingly favored the Democratic Party. During the past few years, those racial and ethnic divisions have grown, mostly because whites have drifted more toward the GOP. Thus, party preferences by race during the Obama years, though similar in nature to the past, have seen some movement that has resulted in slightly greater racial polarization than before.
It is unclear precisely what role Obama’s race has played in these changes. However, the shifts do not appear to be an immediate reaction to his becoming president. Whites became slightly more Republican during 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency. However, the biggest movement came during the next year, when Obama signed the healthcare overhaul into law but saw his approval rating sink and his party lose its large majority in the House in that year’s midterm elections. Further, whites were about as likely to favor the Republican Party at points during George W. Bush’s presidency as they are now.