The Obama Effect

Black Candidates Crowd GOP Field

The number of African Americans running for Republican congressional seats this fall is the highest since Reconstruction, and though it's unlikely that any of them would say they support Obama's politics, many Washington insiders are attributing the spike to the president's historic 2008 victory. "Party affiliation is no barrier to inspiration," says RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Fortunately for the GOP, the surge could prove to be a valuable asset to a party increasingly seen as devoid of diversity. "Their candidacies offer a degree of absolution for this uncomfortable fact," The Daily Beast's John Avlon wrote last month when reporting on this historic phenomenon. Expectations should be tempered, though: Analysts predict that only about five of the candidates have a credible shot at winning.