Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior by Chryl N. Laird and Ismail K. White has won the 2021 American Political Science Association Best Book Award, honoring the best work in government, politics, and international affairs.
A groundbreaking exploration of how group expectations unify Black Americans in the their support of the Democratic party, Steadfast Democrats argues that the roots of Black political unity were established through the adversities of slavery and segregation, when Black Americans forged uniquely strong social bonds for survival and resistance.
Laird and White explain how these tight communities have continued to produce and enforce political norms—including Democratic Party identification in the post–Civil Rights era. The social experience of race for Black Americans is thus fundamental to their political choices. Black voters are uniquely influenced by the social expectations of other Black Americans to prioritize the group’s ongoing struggle for freedom and equality. Through fresh analysis of survey data and original experiments, the book explores where and how Black political norms are enforced, what this means for the future of Black politics, and how this framework can be used to understand the electoral behavior of other communities.
Steadfast Democrats was a Finalist for the PROSE Award in Government and Politics, Association of American Publishers and one of Bloomberg Opinion’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2020.
The American Political Science Association (APSA) Best Book Award, previously known as the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, has been given annually, since 1947 to acknowledge the best book in American political science. Steadfast Democrats is the 11th PUP book to be awarded this honor. Prior award recipients include Racial Realignment: The Transformation of American Liberalism by Eric Schickler, in 2017, and The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality by Tali Mendelberg, in 2001.
Listen to Chryl N. Laird and Ismail K. White on the Princeton University Press Ideas Podcast
Listen to Chyrl N. Laird on NPR’s Code Switch
Read an essay by the authors, on why Black voters stick with Democrats, in The Atlantic
About the Authors
Chyrl N. Laird is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland. She previously held the role of Marvin H. Greene Jr. Assistant Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College. Laird was awarded the 2021 Distinguished Junior Scholar Award from the American Political Science Association. She is represented by PUP Speaks. Follow her on Twitter @chryllaird
Ismail K. White is professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. White is the coeditor of African-American Political Psychology: Identity, Opinion, and Action in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Follow him on Twitter @IsmailWhitePhD