Racial Politics and the Duke University Rape Case

In the case of a black woman who claimed she was raped at a party near the Duke University campus, Durham district attorney Mike Nifong obtained indictments of three white Duke University lacrosse players. Nifong’s decision to proceed in the case, despite the fact that no conclusive DNA evidence was found to support the allegations against the defendants, may have paid political dividends. Nifong won the Democratic primary for district attorney due to the support he received from black voters.

A slim majority of white voters preferred Nifong’s opponent Freda Black, a white woman. But Nifong outpolled Freda Black among African-American voters by a two-to-one margin. His solid support among black voters resulted in Nifong’s winning the primary by 883 votes.