Objective. In this paper we explore the effects of symbolic racism on the i
ntended vote choice of whites by examining a white-on-black statewide elect
ion. It is argued that symbolic racial attitudes will be activated in a whi
te-on-black election simply because of the mere presence of a black candida
te. Methods. The white prospective vote for a white racially conservative c
andidate is examined using survey data from the 1995 Louisiana gubernatoria
l runoff conducted by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center.
Results. Symbolic racism was a strong predictor of intended vote choice, e
ven after controlling for partisan identification and self-identified polit
ical philosophy. Conclusions. Racial attitudes remain an important predicto
r of vote choice in the South, even when racial issues are not directly rai
sed in an election campaign. More generally, our findings point to the cont
inuing centrality of race and racial attitudes in the South, and specifical
ly their role in the increase in Republican voting for subpresidential cont
ests in the 1990s.