But how big a factor is race and race relations in American politics? How much does it really affect who wins and loses, and what policies are put in place by the winners? Is it realistic to expect significant change, based on which party wins in November?
Dr. Zoltan Hajnal, a professor of political science and associate dean at the UC-San Diego School of Public Policy and Strategy joined KBCS Radio on The State of California. Dr. Hajnal is the author of multiple, acclaimed books, including “White Backlash: Immigration, Race and American Politics,” and his latest book, “Dangerously Divided: How Race and Class Shape Winning and Losing in American Politics.”
How big an impact do you think the George Floyd killing and the surging Black Lives Matter movement is likely to have at the polls, five months from now?
A lot of the patterns that we see in American politics are solidified, there’s polarization and racial divide, so 2020 will probably look a lot like 2018 and 2016. But in a really tight contest, which 2020 is likely to be, everything matters and all the protests and issues of race will mobilize a large segment of the racial and ethnic minority populations, especially African Americans. The polls are suggesting that all this is shifting a few people over to the Democratic side, so this is hurting Donald Trump and helping the Democrats for sure, and that might be enough to mean a Joe Biden win and a Democratic majority in the Senate, but potentially.
You’ve written a lot about this topic, has anything surprised you in how it has played out so far?
One thing that’s interesting is how much white America seems to be interested in learning about race and concerend about race and racial discrimination. American politics is, and has been, incredibly racially divided - more divided by race than class or any other demographic factor. You generally see the majority of whites on one side, and the overwhelming majority of racial and ethnic minorities on the other. The moment that we’re in right now, it may be special, I don’t know if it’s going to last or not. It seems like a lot of white Americans are reflecting and thinking about race and wondering whether there is a lot of discmrinination out there, which there clearly is. It’s conceivable that this leads to a diminishing of the va