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The Contextual Underpinnings of Voting Patterns for Black Statewide Candidates

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Journal of Black Studies

Published online on


African American candidates have usually struggled to win statewide elections, but they often perform relatively well in some localities, while doing badly in others. Drawing on unique time-series cross-section data collected in the State of Illinois, we examine how racial and socioeconomic contexts determine support for Black candidates in statewide elections. We show that African American candidates tend to do better primarily in counties that have witnessed a growing inflow of highly educated residents. Furthermore, only in communities where a high level of racial diversity interacts with a highly educated environment do residents seem to become more willing to embrace Black statewide candidates. Our findings may help shed light on the enduring question of what the future of a diversifying society holds.