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Birtherism vs Racism: Vox Focuses on Klinkner Research


Philip Klinkner.
Philip Klinkner.

An article appearing on Vox, titled Trump is still reportedly pushing his racist ‘birther’ conspiracy theory about Obama, featured research completed by Philip Klinkner, the James S. Sherman Professor of Government, in 2014 titled The Causes and Consequences of “Birtherism.” Subtitled Seriously, this is still going on, the Nov. 29 Vox story focused on the fact that President Trump is still promoting conspiracy theories about whether former President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

According to the article, Klinkner “concluded that belief in birtherism ‘is almost completely resistant to factual correction and is strongly related [to] partisanship and attitudes about race.’

“To evaluate this, Klinkner conducted a survey of Americans asking them about their views on Obama’s birthplace. He then compared the answers to other factors, such as political party, race, and racial attitudes. He found that birthers are almost entirely white, are mostly Republican, and reported high levels of racial resentment.

“In fact, a stronger belief in birtherism correlated tightly with increasing levels of racial resentment.

“It’s possible the correlation was coincidental. The study acknowledged that whiteness, Republicanism, and racial resentment all tend to correlate, so maybe this really reflects that partisan beliefs, not racial resentment, drive birtherism. But when Klinkner put all of these factors through a statistical control model, he found that racial resentment significantly correlated by itself with birtherism.”

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