Beat 'Em or Join 'Em? White Voters and Black Candidates in Majority-Black Districts

36 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2012

Date Written: August 1, 2008


In Shaw v. Wilson, the United States Supreme Court addressed the “racial redistricting” policy, which uses race as the predominant factor in drawing districts. The court concluded that “racial redistricting” was an improper remedy to racial polarization in voting as this form of districting only leads to greater polarization between voters. Citing a lack of studies supporting such a determination by the Supreme Court, the article represents an effort to collect and evaluate data on the topic.

The study’s principle goal is to evaluate voter behavior in majority-black congressional districts over a span of years with the goal of determining whether there is a discrepancy in the candidates that white voters selected compared with black voters. Examining a series of campaigns in the 1990s, it was determined that white support for the “black-preferred” candidate was higher than would be expected in such districts though the support was significantly less than that of black voters. Additionally, the article finds that because there is a disparity in how blacks and whites believe that the government should resolve the nation’s problems, black-preferred candidates are faced with the dilemma of still appealing to black voters while also attracting white support. In all, the article concludes that the study does not support the finding in Shaw concerning “racial redistricting”; there is no evidence that “racial redistricting” led to polarization among voters.

Keywords: politics, race

Suggested Citation

Crayton, Kareem U., Beat 'Em or Join 'Em? White Voters and Black Candidates in Majority-Black Districts (August 1, 2008). Syracuse Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Kareem U. Crayton (Contact Author)

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