Stachal Harris

BLACK ENUF: An Exploration of the Strategic Use of Racial Appeals by Black Politicians to Garner Black Voter Support

April 10, 2021   /  

Name: Stachal Harris
Major: Political Science
Minor: Africana Studies
Advisor: Álvaro Corral

This independent study research project explores how some forms of race-based appeals help obtain Black voter support when used by Black politicians. While Black candidates often use/deploy visual cues, verbal cues, or a mixture of both, the field of political science is less sure about whether such cues are effective forms of appeals. My research question asks: how does the use of various race-based appeals used by Black politicians impact the level of support they garner from Black voters? Building on the works of previous scholars, I hypothesize that (1) the use of race-based appeals from Black politicians will lead to greater support from Black voters and support is conditional upon the party of the candidate and (2) the more robust the appeal used by the Black politician, the stronger the level of support received from Black voters. I conducted a survey experiment with 400 MTurk respondents of all racial backgrounds to carry out the analysis. The results confirmed my hypothesis for Black voters that the stronger the appeal used, the greater the level of support; however, my conditional variable did not impact the results. Over ninety percent of the Black respondents claimed they would support the mock Black politician even if they were from an opposing party. This study has important implications in both the way Black politicians campaign and how we view the framework of race-based appeals more generally. In the end, I provide suggestions for future research, such as exploring the effectiveness of diverse types of visual appeals and how that influences support from different racial groups.

Stachal will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

88 thoughts on “BLACK ENUF: An Exploration of the Strategic Use of Racial Appeals by Black Politicians to Garner Black Voter Support”

  1. Well done Stachal! Thank you for sharing your work with us! You have a lot to be proud of. Posselove.

  2. Congratulations, Stachal, it’s so exciting to see all of your hard work paying off! Your presentation was absolutely phenomenal, and I love how accessible you made your research to an audience outside of academia-it was truly exciting to watch! Your findings about the impact of visual appeals are absolutely fascinating, as is your analysis of how the racial visual appeal without the racial verbal appeal led to an increase in support from white conservatives. If you were consulting on a Black candidate’s campaign for, say, a senate seat, what what type of race-based appeals would you recommend that they use?

    1. Thank you Emma for your wonderful comment. I would recommend a Black candidate use visual race-based appeals for a U.S. senate seat. As that is a pretty safe tactic that won’t result in the loss of white voter support but may lead to more support from Black voters.

  3. Stachel – your Admissions family is so incredibly proud of you. Congratulations on completing such an engaging and important project. And, I hear that you are moving to my hometown area of Pittsburgh – let’s make sure we talk about all the wonderful places to explore near CMU. You deserve all of the accolades and recognition for your success and the impact you’ve made on Wooster. Thank you for sharing your voice in so many spaces here. We will miss you.

    1. Much love to the Admissions office! Will definitely be reaching out for places of exploration in Pittsburgh!

  4. Absolutely awesome!! Loved your video. Very understandable and thought-provoking. Brilliantly done Stachal! Cheers!

  5. Hi Stachal, the visual appeals section was so interesting- the example of the manual labor and how groups reacted to this…thank you so much for the video where you go into such depth into your research, which I will look forward to sharing . I love your backdrop of the universe- your research now and in the future will make a difference in our world. It’s been a joy getting to know you these past four years. AG

    1. Thanks for your comment April. Its been amazing having you as a resource for the past four years. Cheers to the Baltimore women that end up in Wooster!

  6. Stachal – your project is so relevant. I can see this impacting future campaigns and decisions. In addition to a well-conducted experiment, I found your presentation to be so engaging! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your work with us!

  7. Stachal, congratulations again on this project. As others have commented, this is an incredibly timely and cutting-edge research. I loved the video, the production quality is sooo good!!! Kudos!
    So proud of you and your work. You are an amazing scholar and I’m so excited for what your future holds. Way to go!

    1. Thank you for being such an amazing advisor! Excited to give you “boring” life updates post-Wooster.

  8. Absolutely fantastic presentation, Stachal. You did a great job establishing the larger context in which your research is positioned, and sharing your personal investment in the work. Thoroughly engaging! I am very glad I got to know you through your many, many contributions to the College. Thank you.

  9. Stachal – As someone who studies framing (both rhetorical and visual), I’m really impressed with your project! It has such important implications for understanding how racial appeals affect political behavior, how rhetoric and images impact campaign messaging outcomes, and the power of messaging in shaping voter preferences and mobilization. And as others have commented, great video – you do a masterful job of making academic research engaging and accessible to the interested non-expert without sacrificing the rigor of your work. Well done!

  10. Congratulations Stachal!! This is such an amazing IS project. I also loved your video, it was so engaging. I can’t wait to see what you do in the future.

  11. Congrats Stachal! Your video was very engaging and thought provoking! I am interested to use this lens looking at elections in the future and the campaign strategies of varying candidates. I really enjoyed the analysis you did at the end of how social media can function as a Black space in relation to geographical spaces. Do you think that campaign strategies using social media in these spaces can have an impact on the success of Black candidates?

    1. Thank you for your comment and question. I do think social media in these spaces can have an impact on the success of Black Candidates if they utilize them correctly for each age demographic. Take TikTok for example, it reaches across various demographics, Black voters age 18-25 may want different content from Black voters ages 40-55. Often times TikTok will show a creators content to the same demographic so perhaps having multiple pages for one candidate that prioritizes each group might be effective. This is something I think could be explored further.

  12. I loved your video and IS topic! Congratulations Stachal I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you do in the future!

  13. Your video, this conversation, is so real, raw, and couldn’t have been done in any better way, shape, or form!! Thank you for sharing in such a great way, truly!

    1. It was so much fun making this vide0, in many ways I wish a lot of academic conversations could be distilled into accessible content that anyone can interact with.

  14. What an amazing and important project! Thanks for sharing your brilliance with us Stachal! So grateful to know you!

    1. It has been amazing getting to know you the past four years, excited to see where life takes you.

  15. Your picture and IS are stunning, incredible and magnificent! Congratulations for a job well done!

  16. Wow! What an amazing and important topic! You should be so proud of yourself! Congrats, Stachal! I cannot wait to see what you do in the future because I know it is going to be AMAZING!!! CMU is lucky to have you 🙂

  17. Stachal, this is a fascinating project! I am getting comm studies vibes and I am here for it. Such interesting and topical research. I will definitely be looking at your full analysis on Openworks!

  18. Stachal, I really enjoyed hearing you explain your research. So interesting. Great work!

  19. Congratulations, Stachal! I enjoyed reading your paper and certainly appreciate this video follow-up! Great job!

    During your research did you happen to explore if Black voters hold non-black candidates to the same high level as they do Black candidates especially as it pertains to a stance on issues that directly impact Black, Brown, and marginalized communities?

    1. So I definitely had an assumption that Black voters hold Black candidate/politicians to a higher level of competence than white candidates/politicians but I did not have the opportunity to include a comparison to non-Black candidates. I think that would have changed the shape of my project a bit but it definitely is something I hope can be explored further.

      1. Thank you for responding. I would love to learn more should you decide to continue your research.

  20. This was great work Stachal! 4oo respondents–wow! I really appreciate the breadth of your analysis. It’s clear that you give considerable thought to your work. Posse Love !

  21. Congratulations on finishing your IS, Stachal! What was the most interesting/fun part of your research process?

    1. My favorite part of my research process was definitely creating my fictional candidate statements and racial appeals. In my mind it was so clear why I chose the elements I did but then I had to explain my rationale for each choice and that challenged me to explain why I chose the pieces I did.

  22. Stachal, your presentation was so engaging and thought-provoking! It would be really exciting to see the full results of your research. Thank you for undertaking such a wonderful project for your I.S. and then sharing it!

  23. Stachal!!! You are incredible. This project is amazing and I absolutely love how your video makes your research on Black political engagement accessible. Thank you for your careful approach to social science research on race and ethnicity in the United States. As always, I’m so impressed by you. Thank you for sharing your research! Much love to you!

    1. Thank you for your comment Hannah!! I find that people are already engaging in many of these topics in their daily lives but just don’t realize it. I definitely feel people who have had the privilege to further their education should help the every day person contextualize their feelings and thoughts with the larger world in a way that is accessible and productive.

  24. Excellent presentation, Stachal!
    I felt like I could have been in direct conversation with you. I took notes and will follow-up Michael C. Dawson (hope that is correct) and your IS, when available.
    I also now know about Soul Searching with Stachal. Thank you for that!

    All the best in the days and weeks to come!

    1. Hey Cameron!

      Happy you were able to see my video presentation. In addition to Michael C. Dawson I would recommend Melissa Harris-Perry as a great place to start for current context.

      1. Hi Stachal ~
        Thank you for the lead on Melissa Harris-Perry!

        So hoping some of graduation will be streamed.

        Have an excellent weekend.

  25. Super proud of you Stachal!! Can’t wait to pick your brain. Very important questions you posed when considering a candidate as a black person. I find that we can’t stop talking about race in America because it was created to exclude blacks in the first place. Keep asking the hard, and important questions. One thing I learned last year is voting is for an exchange.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments! I definitely wish we didn’t have to mention race as much as we do but its built into the structure and by ignoring it we cannot provide any solutions. Fingers crossed for more positive change in the future.

  26. This is such a fantastic project, Stachal! I thought that both your execution of the project as well of your presentation were so well done.

    Hoping that you’re well, and best of luck to your future adventures!

  27. You’re such a natural in front of the camera!! This is SUCH an interesting project and you talk about it in such an engaging way. I just wanted to ask how the demographics ended up being split up among your 400 respondents? How many black respondents did you end up having? Was it significantly skewed by gender? Congrats Stachal!

    1. Thank you for your amazing comment. To answer your question, the data shows MTurk did a decent job of giving me a sample similar to the U.S. population in terms of race. According to the U.S. Census
      Bureau data from 2019, 76.3% percent of the U.S. population identifies as white,
      and all my treatments had between 65-74% of white respondents. Which is better
      than my previous assumption that white participants would be overrepresented
      in my data. Black people only makeup around 13.4% of the U.S. population but
      made up between 20-30% of my respondents across the four treatments. On the other hand, men
      were a bit overrepresented in my data which I expected using the platform of
      MTurk, where women make up a bit more than 50% of the U.S. population, they
      only made up 35-36% of my respondents.

  28. Dear Stachal, thank you so much for this presentation of your IS. It was terrific and so interesting. I was wondering whether, by hosting the discussion on your Youtube channel, you are hoping to share your work with a wider audience, and what kinds of reactions you have gotten from those audiences beyond Wooster who follow you.

    Huge congratulations to you on all you have accomplished over the last four years! You have made a tremendous impact at Wooster which will last for a long time after you graduate. Wishing you all the best for graduate school and the journey ahead… you are going to make great things happen in the world!!

  29. Congratulations, Stachal! Great and important contribution to this scholarly conversation.

  30. Brava, Stachal! Now I want to listen to more of your You Tube videos on race and ethnicity specifically in higher ed. This is wonderful and important work. You should be so proud. It has been my pleasure to serve with you — even virtually — in SPPAC. Thank you so much for all you have done in service to the College. All the best to you in all your pursuits.

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