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Black Women Are Riding a Wave From Voter Participation to Political Office

Black women went to the polls in record numbers in 2012, registering and voting at ahigher rate than any other group of voters. In 2014 they’ve set another record: More black women are making bids for national and statewide elected office this year than ever before.

According to a recent analysis, 30 black women are running for U.S. House seats in the general election, constituting more than a third of the record-breaking 83 black candidates who are vying for these offices. Moreover, among female candidates seeking open seats in the House of Representatives this year, five of the eight who are favored to win are black women. Two black women are seeking U.S. Senate seats, and 10 new black female candidates and two incumbents are running for statewide posts.

Included among the mix of candidates are five black women who are making a historic simultaneous bid for statewide office in Georgia, a gubernatorial candidate in the Virgin Islands, and candidates in South Carolina and Oklahoma who are running for the U.S. Senate. These offices are some of the toughest to win, and historically few black women have sought them.

A win by just a handful of these candidates could significantly shift the political landscape and help redefine the face of leadership on the state and national levels.  Currently, 14 black women hold U.S. House seats (pdf), and two nonvoting black female delegates serve in Congress. If all the incumbents running for re-election hold on to their seats, and if each of the five black women who are favored to win their open-seat contests succeeds, the 114th Congress will have a record 18 black female members and two nonvoting black female delegates.




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