Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2010


In this manuscript, we reexamine claims about the geography of electoral success of African American candidates. Barack Obama's historic election in 2008 prompted journalists, partisans, and scholars to review prior notions of where African American candidates can successfully contend for elected office. Although Obama's victory is just an anecdotal national example (albeit an important one), we review the available evidence at the state level to understand what factors might impede African American electoral success. Heretofore, the literature focused on the density of the black population, and the interconnectedness of region and white racial attitudes. This paper shows that these old standbys can no longer explain African American electoral success.


This work was originally published in The American Review of Politics.



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