In the early twenty-first century, race still occupies a dominant role in American politics. Despite this truism, presidential candidate Barack Obama was uniquely poised to transcend both race and party as the first African American to have a realistic chance of winning the presidency. Previous contenders running in the traditional mode of the Civil Rights Movement based their appeal primarily on African American voters. Obama, on the other hand, ran a deracialized campaign in an effort to appeal to voters of different backgrounds and political parties.
Clayton examines how race in American politics has changed over time and offers an explanation for why Obama’s candidacy offers a different roadmap for the future. The Presidential Campaign of Barack Obama provides students of politics, inside and outside of the classroom, a unique opportunity to explore the institutional and structural challenges an African American faces in becoming the president of the United States. This guide to major issues in Black politics and the ins and outs of the 2008 campaign provides the necessary contours for understanding how the highest elected African American official won office.