Following the election of Republican Winsome Sears to the office of Lt. Governor in Virginia, Progressive outlet FiveThirtyEight claims that white voters who vote for black Republicans are racist.
They argue that "supporting a Black candidate hardly precludes voters from harboring racist beliefs and motivations," noting that "Republicans are increasingly more likely than Democrats to hold prejudiced views of minorities, so Black Republicans like Sears often draw especially strong support from white Americans with otherwise anti-Black views simply because they draw most of their support from Republican voters."
FiveThirtyEight uses the example of numerous theoretical political matchups between supporters of Republican Ben Carson, who campaigned to be president in 2016, and other previous presidents and presidential nominees, connecting those with statements that white Americans agreed or disagreed with.
The first compares Carson supporters to to white Americans that though "black Americans had too much influence."
Those that thought black Americans have too much influence in politics preferred Carson to Hillary Clinton by 45 points. Whites who thought African Americans had "far too little" influence disliked Carson and preferred Hillary Clinton by 60 percentage points.
They stressed that "Republicans are more likely to hold prejudiced views and also more likely to support a Republican candidate. But that's the point: For many white GOP voters, anti-Black views don't seem to get in the way of supporting a Black Republican."
In another theoretical matchup, they compared Carson, Barack Obama, and Jeb Bush, to a white person's view of how violent a black or white person is.
Those that highly supported Carson were more likely to say that "most African Americans are more violent than most whites." On the other end, those that said "most whites are more violent than most African Americans" were supportive of Obama.
"To make sense of why racially prejudiced white Americans are willing to support some Black candidates, it is worth considering why they so strongly oppose Black Democrats in the first place," they state.
They state that most black political candidates are Democrats "who embrace liberal positions on issues of race and justice." They argue that "racially prejudiced white voters worry that these candidates will represent the interests of Black Americans, both because of a shared African American identity and because Democrats are perceived as the party more supportive of Black interests."
"So, it makes sense that racially resentful white Americans oppose candidates like Obama, as his racial identity and partisanship signaled to voters that he was more supportive of Black interests than prior presidents," they continued.
"Put another way: Racially prejudiced white voters are not opposed to Black candidates simply because they are Black, but because they believe that most Black candidates will fight for 'those people' and not 'people like us,' they say of black Democrats.
They say that black Republicans are perceived by "prejudiced white Americans" as not being "in the business of carrying water for their own racial group."
"Instead, they are viewed as distinct from other Black elites. If Blackness is viewed as intertwined with a kind of racial liberalism that is antagonistic to the interests of white Americans, Black Republicans' partisan and ideological commitments allay concerns that they are for 'them,' not 'us,'" they wrote.
They also argue that black Republicans that embrace "bootstrap" ideologies, or a focus on the individual, are more popular with "racially prejudiced whites."
Finally, they argue that voting for black Republicans gives these "racially prejudiced whites" a sort of card to say "I can't be racist! I voted for a black candidate!"
"Race, after all, is a social construct. It has meaning because we imbue it with meaning," they wrote.