Title

Burying the Hatchet? Elite Influence and White Opinion on the Washington Redskins Controversy

Publication Date

2017

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Objective: Is the opinion of white Americans regarding the continued use of the Washington Redskins’ team name influenced by their exposure to elite rhetoric that supports a team name change and views the team's name as offensive?

Methods: In order to explore the potential for elite opinion leadership on white opinion, this article employs a survey experiment embedded in the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study in which respondents were randomly exposed to a message attributed to either Senator Harry Reid (a Democrat), Senator John McCain (a Republican), or NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas that details their opposition to the team's name.

Results: Testing hypotheses derived from the scholarship on elite opinion theory, this article finds that exposure only to a message from Costas on this issue leads respondents to more strongly support a team name change and to more clearly view the term 'Redskins' as offensive. Our results (1) further the scholarship on public opinion concerning Native American mascots, (2) suggest the conditions under which the barriers to change in sporting institutions may continue to evolve, and (3) speak to the limits of political elite influence.

Original Citation

Nteta, T.M., Sharrow, E.A., & Tarsi, M.R. (2017). Burying the Hatchet? Elite Influence and White Opinion on the Washington Redskins Controversy. Social Science Quarterly, published online May 11, 2017. doi: 10.1111/ssqu.12406

Identifier

doi: 10.1111/ssqu.12406