Racial minorities can win elections. Here’s what’s holding them back.

March 20, 2023

MSU PLS Professor Matt Grossmann, director of @IPPSR and a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center in Washington, DC, interviewed fellow PLS Associate Professor Dr. Eric Gonzalez Juenke about what could be holding back non-white candidates for office in this Niskanen Center podcast.


As the U.S. diversifies, political representation is not keeping pace. But that doesn’t mean we can blame the voters. Black and Hispanic candidates do win elections when they run and generate support from their parties. In fact, it could be that apprehension about how voters would react is what is holding back political representation.  Eric Gonzalez Juenke finds that non-white candidates that barely win primary elections over white candidates do at least as well in general elections as white candidates who barely win—if not even better. Minority candidates can win, in either party and even in districts without large minority populations. 




Paper by MSU PLS professor cited by President Biden

March 22, 2023

A paper in the Journal of Public Policy by Associate Professor Nazita Lajevardi was cited in President Joe Biden’s 2023 Economic Report.

Dr. Lajevardi co-authored the article "Hate, amplified? Social media news consumption and support for anti-Muslim policies " with Drs. Kassra AR Oskooii (University of Deleware) and Hannah Walker (University of Texas-Austin). They received an email on Tuesday from Cecilia Elena Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Executive Office of the President.

"I am writing as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, a component of the Executive Office of the President in the Biden-Harris Administration. We recently released the 2023 Economic Report of the President, together with the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers.

"Your work is cited in this volume. I am writing to thank you for helping us shape this report. The Report begins with a reflection by President Biden about the Administration’s economic accomplishments, and opportunities and challenges ahead. Nine chapters then follow" said the letter from Rouse.

Dr. Lajevardi is cited on page 217 in a section titled "The Societal Implications of Digital Markets."




Minority Political Candidates just need a chance

MSU Today

Feb. 11, 2014

It’s not necessarily voters who should be blamed for the lack of minorities in state legislatures, but instead the two major political parties for not recruiting enough candidates, indicates new research by a Michigan State University scholar.

Eric Gonzalez Juenke analyzed nearly 10,000 statehouse elections in 2000 and 2010 and found Latino candidates were on the ballot just 5 percent of the time. But when Latinos did run for office, they won just as often as their white counterparts – even in districts where most voters were white.

Juenke’s other research suggests the same holds true for black and other ethnic minority candidates.

“Thus, the puzzle of minority underrepresentation in the United States shifts away from voters and moves instead toward the parties who are responsible for recruiting, training and supporting minority candidates for office,” said Juenke, assistant professor of political science.

Published in the American Journal of Political Science, the study is the first large-scale investigation of minority candidate underrepresentation at the state level and its effects on the election of minority officeholders.

A wealth of past research suggests many voters are biased against candidates of different ethnicities and races. This study does not refute that finding. Instead, it suggests white voters are more likely to prioritize party affiliation over race or ethnicity when considering a candidate.

Despite their low representation in elected office, Hispanics are the nation’s largest racial minority, making up 17 percent of the population – a number that’s projected to grow to 31 percent by 2060, according to the census.

Lack of minority representation in elected office has fueled many lawsuits against how political districts are drawn. But Juenke said district makeup may not be as important as many think.

“We don’t have to pack districts with minority voters in order to get minority representatives in legislatures,” he said. “What we need to do is start running more minority candidates.”

On a larger level, Juenke said President Barack Obama, a black Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Latino Republican, are good examples of minority politicians who won elections in which a majority of constituents were white.