Dangerously Divided: How Race and Class Shape Winning and Losing in American Politics, Zoltan L. Hajnal

Natalie Masuoka
Content Type
Journal Article
Political Science Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Winter 2020-21
Academy of Political Science
Explanations for American voting behavior and attitudes have taken on a curious frame since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, such that there have been growing claims that race is no longer central to American politics. Obama’s election was labeled evidence of a new “post-racial” America. Then, when Donald Trump was elected in 2016, public narratives emphasized the role of social class by pointing to the voting bloc of white, working-class, and rural voters who had helped decide the outcome of the election. Zoltan L. Hajnal’s Dangerously Divided joins an important collection of recent academic work that directly challenges the argument about the reduced role of race in American politics. Hajnal does not sugarcoat his position: “A key aspect of this story is not just that race matters but also that it eclipses the other important dividing lines in American society” (p. 13). Race has always been a core feature of American politics, and it is present even in the constitutional Framers’ debates over the structure of government. The interpretation that recent events indicate a reduced role of race discounts the historical centrality that race has always played in American government. Hajnal offers empirical evidence and an unambiguous argument that race continues to direct most patterns in American politics.
Politics, Race, Elections, Book Review, Political Science, Class
Political Geography
North America, United States of America