Marion Orr, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy, co-authored a paper in the January 2013 issue of Urban Affairs Review about racial politics and the election of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. “Anxieties of an Ethnic Transition” examines how Providence voters assessed the future of the city in the midst of an economic downturn following the election of the first Latino mayor.
Orr and the University of Chicago’s Alexandra Filindra found that both race and perception of one’s own personal economic situation can play a role in how voters feel about a city’s outlook. Analyzing survey data collected in September 2010 during the recession, Orr and Filindra found that Latinos were more likely to express positive expectations about the city under Taveras, while whites had a less positive outlook.
The study also showed that blacks who were affected by the downturn were more likely to have a less optimistic outlook of the city under Taveras. Orr and Filindra conclude that the optimism expressed by Latino voters, who were among the most affected by the recession, may see Taveras’s election as a “promise of better days to come,” while the pessimistic sentiments from members of the other groups who were negatively affected by the poor economy indicate that “racial tensions persist and may be accentuated by the recession.”