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According to a recent study by University of Chicago assistant professor of law Nicholas Stephanopoulos, on both the federal and state level, the support of the black community on a given policy actually reduced the policy's chances of passing. From The Atlantic:

For example, a federal policy with no white support has only a 10 percent chance of being enacted, while one with universal white support has a 60 percent shot of adoption. But while a proposal with no black support has a 40 percent chance of becoming law, one enjoying unanimous approval has only a 30 percent probability of enactment. In other words, as support for a policy rises within the black community, the odds of it being achieved actually decline.

And that trend extends to support from women, poor people, and Hispanics, too:

Strikingly, as women move from universal opposition to a proposal to universal support, its odds of adoption plummet from 75 percent to 10 percent. Changes in the ideology of female or poor voters also have no effect on state legislative outcomes (although shifts in the views of Hispanic voters do). In contrast, both federal and state laws are acutely sensitive to the preferences of whites, men, and the rich.

You can read the full paper here, but the upshot is that, despite the progress made by minorities in gaining elected office—including unprecedented black political representation in all levels of government—this optical progress isn't manifesting itself where it really matters.


As to how to go about remedying this issue, Stephanopoulos relays the sad truth: "We can now quantify the power wielded by different groups," he writes in The Atlantic. "But neither my work, nor anyone else’s, has determined what the causes of group influence might be, let alone how disparities in clout can be corrected."

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.