Date of Award

5-1-1985

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name

M.P.A.

Department

Public Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Brenda J. D. Rowe

Abstract

Black voter participation has received considerable scholarly attention. Indeed, an important relationship exists between rates of political activity for blacks and the development of public policy by legislative bodies, elected officials, and governmental administrators. That is, ethnic affinity has long been an important symbolic component of American politics, and ethnic identification has often provided an incentive for otherwise inactive voters to vote for a representative of their ethnic community. The presence of a minority member on the ballot might be expected to increase minority group participation particularly when the candidate is running for an office such as state senator that is considered important. This study begins to address this paucity by exploring factors which influence blacks to participate in the political process, specifically the voting patterns of black registered voters as exemplified in both the primary and the run-off elections in the 35th State Senate District Democratic Primary in South Fulton County, Georgia.

Data from interviews with 561 black voters as they left the polls on election day, September 4, 1984, is used to explore what influences black voters to participate in the political process. A tentative analysis of white racial bloc voting patterns in the district will be explored. White racial bloc voting means that whites will vote only for white candidates, and that no matter what the qualifications of black candidates, there will be one or more white candidates who will attract nearly all of the white votes. Additionally, this study suggests that evidence from a growing body of research clearly indicates that black electoral participation influences the distribution of public benefits at the state and local levels.

The major findings of the study are as follows: 1. The State Senate District 35 exhibited a pattern of racial bloc voting; and 2. A surprisingly high degree of political participation by black voters was exhibited during the election(s).

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