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Multiracial Identity and Racial Politics in the United States$
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Natalie Masuoka

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190657468

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190657468.001.0001

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In the Eye of the Beholder

In the Eye of the Beholder

American Perceptions of Obama’s Race

Chapter:
(p.143) 6 In the Eye of the Beholder
Source:
Multiracial Identity and Racial Politics in the United States
Author(s):

Natalie Masuoka

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190657468.003.0006

This chapter evaluates how Americans racially classify others and how this process of racial classification might vary across individuals. The case examined in this chapter are voter perceptions of President Barack Obama’s race. Data show that although Obama self-identifies as (only) African American, the majority of voters describe Obama as a mixed-race person. At the same time, racial classification is found to vary depending on the respondent’s race and so analyses are offered that compare white, black, and Latino perception of Obama’s race. The second half of the chapter assesses the possible political implications of perceiving Obama as black compared to perceiving Obama as mixed race. Data show that voters who perceive Obama as black evaluate the president differently than voters who perceive Obama as mixed race.

Keywords:   Obama, white, black, Latino, mixed race, presidential evaluation, campaigns and elections, political candidate, perception

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