Race, Polarization, and Life After the Election

Part of our "SNF Agora Conversations: Election 2020" series

Polarization, particularly along racial lines, is one of the key factors of our current election cycle. It’s also a political tactic, and one of the vulnerabilities that has left us open to foreign interference. The country is witnessing a profound racial reckoning, and the November election may put leaders in office who want to unite us around issues of racial justice, but there will be no quick fixes. How do we talk about race, identity, and polarization in a way that doesn’t imagine that one election—or one elected leader—can heal all wounds? How do we hold the conversations that bridge divides and put us on a durable pathway forward, together?


  • Alan I. Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  He has authored or coauthored six books, including most recently, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation and the Rise of Donald Trump (2018).   
  • Theodore “Ted” R. Johnson is a senior fellow and director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. In this role, he explores the intersection of race, politics, and public policy outcomes as they relate to the systems of democracy and justice.
  • Ashley Quarcoo is a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program. Her research focus is on threats to democracy, social and political polarization, and comparative approaches toward building social cohesion and democratic renewal.