A descriptive analysis of partisanship and political attiudes among young black Americans

Donnice M. Turner, Atlanta University


The growth of political conservatism and the decline in partisan loyalty among the general American population in the 1980's lead to this study of political attitudes and partisanship among this country's young black population. There has been a great deal of speculation regarding whether the growth in conservatism and dealignment with the Democratic Party was also occurring among young black Americans. Utilizing data from the 1984 and 1988 National Black Election Study (NBES), it was found that while well over three-fourths of those between 17 and 24 identified with the Democratic Party, less than a third strongly identified with the party. Conversely, in the oldest age cohort (55-91), 85 percent identified with the party, and 58 percent were strongly identified. This indicates that while the direction of partisan loyalty does not vary significantly, the intensity of that loyalty is quite evident across generations. In terms of political ideology, over half of the young respondents tend to identify with conservatism, while in the older age groups less than a third identify with conservative ideology. Critical variables identified in the model that predicted detachment from Democratic partisanship and the growth of conservatism were education and income.