African Americans rarely influence white candidates in at large elections be

African americans rarely influence white candidates

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African-Americans rarely influence white candidates in at-large elections, be they for local or national office, for two related reasons. First, as implied above, in at-large districts "the preferenc- es of black voters can be 'submerged in the larger pool of white vote[s],' votes that have traditionally reflected preferences contrary to those of black voters." 117 Therefore, "the voting strength of [African-Americans and other minorities] is diminished or canceled out by the bloc vote of [the white] majority." 118 Second, the local, and by analogy, the presidential candidate, when elected through an at-large system, may feel "free to disregard [the] needs and concerns [of minorities]." 11 9 This complacence may occur because the official who would choose to disregard minority interests knows that her support has come primarily from white voters and concentrates on keeping those voters happy. 1 20 115 Bernard Grofman & Chandler Davidson, Postscript: What is the Best Route to a Color-Blind Society?, in CONTROVERSIES IN MINORITY VOTING, supra note 76, at 300, 311. 116 See Gary Blonston, Study Sees a More Crowded, Ethnically DiverseAmerica, PHILA. INQUIRER, Dec. 4, 1992, at A25. 117 Pamela S. Karlan, Undoing the Right Thing: Single-Member Offices and the Voting Rights Act, 77 VA. L. REV. 1, 7-8 (1991) (quoting Peyton McCrary &J. Gerald Hebert, Keeping the Courts Honest: The Role of Historians as Expert Witnesses in Southern Voting Rights Cases, 16 S.U. L. REV. 101, 103 (1989)). 118 Davidson, supra note 17, at 4; see also THOMAS CAVANAGH, INSIDE BLACK AMERICA 47 (1985). Cavanagh recounts that in the 1984 presidential election "black voters overwhelmingly supported Walter Mondale" and not his opponent, Ronald Reagan. Id. at 1. But "despite their widespread opposition to the performance and priorities of the administration of Ronald Reagan, they could not prevent his landslide reelection, given his popularity with the white electorate." Id. 119 Frank R. Parker, Racial Gerymandering and Reapportionmen4 in MINORITY VOTE DILUTION, supra note 17, at 85, 86. 12 0 See EdwardJ. Sehold, Note, Applying Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to Single. 2337
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2338 UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 141: 2311 While the intent may be innocent enough, the result is exclusion. It is also worth noting that several Supreme Court and lower federal court decisions have acknowledged the adverse effects of at- large systems on minority voting. 121 Implicit in the holdings is Member Offices, 88 MICH. L. REv. 2199, 2234 (1990) ("An official with majority support, especially white majority support in a racially polarized town, risks losing that backing if he embraces 'minority proposals which are at war with the majority view on the same question.'" (quoting Robert B. Washington,Jr., Does the Constitution Guarantee Fair and Effective Representation to All Interest Groups Making Up the Electorate?, 17 HOW. L.J. 91, 108 (1971))).
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