Political Clout

It’s a group that’s been credited with influencing American fashion and music as well as culture. But do young black Americans have any political clout? The answer is yes, according to author and commentator Keli Goff. In her new book, Party Crashing: How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence (Basic Civitas; $16.95), she interviews political figures, celebrities, and young black voters on topics that include the rise of independent voters, religious influence in politics, and the possibility of the first black president.

In this 2008 election, where every vote counts and the number of young people active in politics is extremely high, Goff offers some engaging statistics that suggest this is not a group that the Democrats or Republicans can continue to take for granted-or overlook.


  • 35% of 18- to 24-year-olds identify themselves as Independents.
  • 41% Respondents who are registered Democrats, but not “committed Democrats.” They consider themselves “politically independent.”
  • 25% of younger respondents say that Barack Obama’s candidacy makes them more likely to vote in the 2008 election.
  • 32% Respondents who do not believe that “the Democratic Party works as hard to earn the support of Black voters as it does to earn the support of other groups of voters.”
  • 72% of younger respondents said they do not believe that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton speak for them.