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Obama ‘Coattail Effect’ Brings Out Record Number of Black Candidates

US President Barack Obama speaks duringA record-breaking number of Black politicians are now running for office, and some experts believe it is the result of the nation electing its first Black president six years ago.

Back in 2008, the nation welcomed President Barack Obama as its first Black president.

Now, that historic moment continues to have a grand impact on political elections at both the statewide and congressional levels.

The Associated Press revealed that more than 100 Black candidates will be up for election Tuesday.

At least 83 Black politicians are running for the House, including Utah’s Mia Love, who hopes to become the first Black Republican woman elected to Congress.

There are also at least 25 Black politicians running for statewide offices such as senator, governor or lieutenant governor.

The numbers represent a recent trend of increasing numbers of Black politicians running for office since Obama was elected.

In 2012, a then-record 72 Black politicians were seeking seats in the House and 17 Black politicians were running in statewide contests, political scientist David Bositis told The Associated Press. 

These record numbers could also lead to yet another historical moment in the nation’s electoral history: Four Black women, all Democrats, are already predicted to win their races for seats in the House. If these women do come out victorious and no Black female incumbent loses, the nation will have 20 Black women in the House. This would mark the highest number of Black women in the House in U.S. history, Bositis said.

Political science professor Fredrick C. Harris, director of Columbia University’s Center of African-American Politics and Society, described the new wave of Black candidates as a “coattails effect” resulting from Obama being elected, but the record-breaking numbers are still a sign of something much greater.

“It may be that this is a reflection of political opportunity,” Harris explained.

More Black politicians feel encouraged to run for office because the election of President Obama served as a sign that there was a greater turnout of Black voters.

According to the Census Bureau, African-Americans voted at a higher rate than any other group of minorities in 2012—the data showed that for the first time, Black voters actually outnumbered white voters in America.

A shift in voter turnout has also been accompanied by a shift in political demographics.

“The fact is that many of the increases are occurring in states where most whites are withdrawing from Democratic Party politics – leaving Black candidates the nominations by default,” Bositis said.

This year will also mark the highest number of African-American Democrats running for office.

The previous record was set in 2012 with 59 Democratic nominees for statewide and congressional offices. Tuesday’s elections will have at least 65 Black Democratic nominees running for office.

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