The Election of Blacks to City CouncilsA 1970 Status Report and a Prolegomenon

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... Empirical studies that have examined the black representation-partisan link have focused on voting outcomes rather than on whether party leaders disproportionately encourage or discourage support of black candidates or whether the party organization works on behalf of the candidate. We find several I studies pointing to a slightly positive link between partisan systems and aggregate black representation (Kramer, 1971; Campbell and Feagin, 1975; Robinson and Dye, 1978), as well as two studies indicating no connection (Cole, 1974; The one study that has explored party support for black candidates found that black elected officials were more likely than white elected officials to report election help from party leaders and workers (Conyers and Wallace, 1976). Aside from this one study and the contradictory common wisdom that white party leaders' and organizations are likely to oppose black candidates, we really do not know much about party leaders' activities in this respect. ...
Using data from a random national sample of nearly 1,000 members of city councils, the authors analyze racial differences in the perceptions that city council members have of which groups supported them in their election campaigns. On the whole, racial differences in these perceptions were few. Black incumbent council members receive more support than black non-incumbents, but even members of the latter group perceive a similar amount of group support as do white council candidates. A variety of explanations for these findings is discussed.
Recent investigations in what matters in campaigns have highlighted "narrative politics" to describe the influences of story-telling processes in campaigns over traditional "retail politics." Narrative politics represent an important intersection with retail politics in which the narrative construction of identity is part of the current construction of a political campaign created for public consumption. Yet, the question still remains: Do narrative-retail politics matter in campaigns? To answer this, strategic campaign stories of 87 candidates who competed in the historic 2001 New York City Council elections are analyzed. Three campaign strategies emerge from the data: (1) accumulation strategies, (2) elimination strategies, and (3) differentiation strategies. Accumulation and elimination strategies homogenize campaigning, which drastically limit differentiation strategies. Despite efforts by candidates to "kick open" the local campaign process and make it more democratic, political clout rather than narrative-retail politics matters in elections.
The notion that at-large elections for city council seats are discriminatory toward blacks has recently been attacked as empirically invalid. Recent studies have reached conflicting conclusions as to whether electoral arrangements or socioeconomic factors are the major influence on how proportionately blacks are represented. This article addresses this issue, using a regression-based analysis in which proportionality is treated as a relationship across cities with electoral structure as a specifying variable. Socioeconomic variables found to be important in other studies are included. The results support the traditional notion and suggest that the electoral structure begins to have a discernible impact on the level of black representation once the black population reaches 10 percent of the total municipal population. While one socioeconomic variable, the relative income of the city's black population, is found to affect the election of blacks, its impact is greater than that of the electoral structure only when the black population is less than 15 percent.
The merits and drawbacks of different kinds of political structures are frequently debated and much less frequently subjected to empirical tests. In this article we explore some hypotheses concerning the effects of nonpartisanship and at-large elections on the income and education levels of those elected to city councils. Using a nationwide data base of nearly 1000 council members, we find that our hypotheses concerning the impacts of the "reform" institutions are confirmed to a modest extent.
The effect of each element of the Voting Rights Act's totality-of-the-circumstances test on black city council membership is analyzed in 946 cities with 1980 populations exceeding 25,000. Several structural elements, namely, staggered terms, majority vote requirements, large councils, and longer terms for council members, do not significantly reduce rates of black membership. There is some evidence, however, that the proportion black on a council is higher when representation is from single-member districts, at least in the South. Even in the South, the advantages of single-member elections vis-à-vis at-large elections do not apply to all types of citywide voting. Black office holding in at-large southern cities with residency requirements or that combines staggered terms with pure at-large elections is very similar to that in single-member district cities.
This book explores some of the key challenges confronting the governance of cities in Africa, the reforms implemented in the field of urban governance, and the innovative approaches in critical areas of local governance, namely in the broad field of decentralization and urban planning reform, citizen participation, and good governance. The collection also investigates the constraints that continuously hamper urban governments as well as the ability to improve urban governance in African cities through citizen responsive innovations. Decentralization based on the principle of subsidiarity emerges as a critical necessary reform if African cities are to be appropriately empowered to face the challenges created by the unprecedented urban growth rate experienced all over the continent. This requires, among other initiatives, the implementation of an effective local self-government system, the reform of planning laws, including the adoption of new planning models, the development of citizen participation in local affairs, and new approaches to urban informality. The book will be of interest to students, researchers and policy makers in urban studies, and in particular for those interested in urban planning in Africa.
Do nonpartisan municipal elections free the electorate from the pressure of group influence? Two case studies, one of a nonpartisan, the other of a partisan, election, suggest that nonpartisan municipal elections may only substitute ethnic pressures for those of party.
Political Influence City Politics
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