A Caltech Library Service

The Revolution Against Affirmative Action in California: Politics, Economics, and Proposition 209

Alvarez, R. Michael and Butterfield, Tara L. (1998) The Revolution Against Affirmative Action in California: Politics, Economics, and Proposition 209. Social Science Working Paper, 1033. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA.

[img] PDF (sswp 1033 - Apr. 1998) - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We consider two possible explanations-economic anxiety and racial division for the appeal of Proposition 209 to California voters during the 1996 election. Voter support for this proposition has been attributed to racial differences in opinion and to economic anxiety caused by poor economic conditions in the state and the perceived threat that affirmative action presented in school admissions or the workplace. Because the presidential candidates campaigned on and debated the merits of affirmative action policy during this election, we incorporate this endogeneity into our analysis. We develop two competing hypotheses to explain voter behavior: (1) if voters are blaming affirmative action for the state's economic conditions, then voters who believe that California's economic condition is poor or who perceive that their personal financial situation is worse will be more likely to support Proposition 209; and (2) if voters are, instead, divided along more traditional racial lines on the merits of affirmative action (winners versus losers), then whites, males, Republicans, and conservatives will be more likely to support Proposition 209, and other ethnic group members, females, Democrats, and liberals will be more likely to oppose Proposition 209. To test these hypotheses, we analyze voter exit poll data from the 1996 California election. We utilize a two-stage logit model to allow for the endogeneity of candidate endorsements. We find support for the second of our two hypotheses. These findings cause us to conclude that racial division fueled by a fear of arbitrary exclusion prompted voter support for Proposition 209.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemLater version published in State Politics and Policy Quarterly
Alvarez, R. Michael0000-0002-8113-4451
Additional Information:We thank Manny Avalos for his helpful comments and Gail Nash for her assistance. The research reported in this paper was supported by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, through a Faculty Fellowship to Alvarez.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1033
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170811-154822248
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80323
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:11 Aug 2017 23:28
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

Repository Staff Only: item control page