Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

David Merolla


In the past 50 years political science and sociological scholarship has demonstrated a consistent white-minority gap in political attitudes and behaviors. However, recent developments in the national political scene have introduced a new element that likely impacts these well-established trends, and must be taken into account: Barak Obama, an individual identifying with a minority group, ran for the office of the president of the United States. To explore the impact of Obama’s presence on the political behavior of minorities, I performed a secondary data analysis of variables from both the pre-election and post-election modules of the ANES 2008 Time-Series study, and examined four hypotheses: (H1) Racial minorities will have lower perceptions of political efficacy than white respondents; (H2) Racial minorities will have lower rates of political participation than white respondents; (H3) Respondents’ lowered efficacy will result in similarly lowered political participation; (H4) Respondents who voted for Barak Obama in 2008 will have increased levels of political efficacy after the 2008 election. The results are compelling: literature states that many racial differences in efficacy and voting are due to moderating factors such as differences in SES, but I've found that black citizens were in fact far more likely to vote in 2008 regardless of whether or not SES was controlled for. I've also found statistical significance in each of the relationships highlighted in my hypotheses.