Why Don't More African-Americans Seek Higher Office?

Friday, March 16, 2012

When President Obama became the first black president in 2008, it seemed to mark a tremendous historical turning point for black representation in American political life. But four years later there has been no great renaissance in black electoral representation. If the number of office-holders was demographically proportionate, there would be at least 12 African American senators and six governors. In reality, there are currently no African-American senators and only one African-American governor in office.

Bruce Oppenheimer is a political scientist at Vanderbilt University. Genia Philip is president of Black Americans Lobbying for Leadership of Tomorrow.   


Bruce Oppenheimer and Genia Philip

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [3]


A quota system in elections runs contrary to something we call the US Constitution and to change it takes super majorities around the nation and much more than a few at the top. Will the next round of defamation and demagoguery be targeted against those insisting on following the oath they took to defend the US Constitution?
How about calling for outreach and quotas for conservative minorities and women to run if the guest is serious about real diversity?

Mar. 16 2012 10:35 AM
Diane from Detroit, MI

Several reasons....
The American population is 13% black. Even in states where there are cities wherein the black population is high (in Detroit it is over 90%), the other areas of the state outvote the black voice. Black candidates do well at the local (city) level only.

There are socioeconomic issues that also are factors. There are disparities including less high school and college graduation rates, high unemployment, low incomes, and low voter turnout. Successful candidates need A LOT of money to get elected, and this is also an obstacle to success.

Mar. 16 2012 09:41 AM
Chris from Cambridge, MA

I find it sad that some of the folks running for elected office (such as Mia Love - Utah's Fourth Congressional District) are essentially ignored by the press because they don't fit the narrative. If you want more African-Americans to run for elected office, then celebrate all that run. Not just those that meet or extend the status quo.

Mar. 16 2012 09:35 AM

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