Cite as: 539 U. S. 461 (2003)
Opinion of the Court
1020-1021. And it is of course true that evidence of racial polarization is one of many factors relevant in assessing whether a minority group is able to elect a candidate of choice or to exert a significant influence in a particular district. See Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U. S., at 37; id., at 100- 104 (O'Connor, J., concurring in judgment); see also White v. Regester, 412 U. S. 755 (1973); Zimmer v. McKeithen, 485 F. 2d 1297 (CA5 1973) (en banc).
The dissent nevertheless asserts that it "cannot be right" that the § 5 inquiry goes beyond assessing whether a minority group can elect a candidate of its choice. Post, at 494. But except for the general statement of retrogression in Beer, the dissent cites no law to support its contention that retrogression should focus solely on the ability of a minority group to elect a candidate of choice. As Justice Souter himself, writing for the Court in Johnson v. De Grandy, supra, at 1011-1012, has recognized, the "extent of the opportunities minority voters enjoy to participate in the political processes" is an important factor to consider in assessing a § 2 vote-dilution inquiry. See also Thornburg v. Gingles, supra, at 98-100 (O'Connor, J., concurring in judgment). In determining how the new districting plan differs from the benchmark plan, the same standard should apply to § 5.
The District Court failed to consider all the relevant factors when it examined whether Georgia's Senate plan resulted in a retrogression of black voters' effective exercise of the electoral franchise. First, while the District Court acknowledged the importance of assessing the statewide plan as a whole, the court focused too narrowly on proposed Senate Districts 2, 12, and 26. It did not examine the increases in the black voting age population that occurred in many of the other districts. Second, the District Court did not explore in any meaningful depth any other factor beyond the comparative ability of black voters in the majority-
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