Do Americans Prefer Coethnic Representation? the Impact of Race on House Incumbent Evaluations

By Ansolabehere, Stephen; Fraga, Bernard L. | Stanford Law Review, June 2016 | Go to article overview

Do Americans Prefer Coethnic Representation? the Impact of Race on House Incumbent Evaluations


Ansolabehere, Stephen, Fraga, Bernard L., Stanford Law Review


Table of Contents  Introduction  I.   Race and Representation       A. Conceptual Foundations      B. Prior Empirical Research  II.  Methodology and Data  III. Results       A. Coethnicity and Evaluations of Representatives      B. Effects of Race and Party      C. Accounting for Racial Preferences of White         Democrats: A Multivariate Analysis  IV.  Discussion  Conclusion 

Introduction

Social groups, such as races and religions, are undeniably important in the election of representatives in a democracy. Group identities can help solve collective action problems, such as voting, (1) and group politics shape the distribution of and responses to public goods provision and other public policies. (2) Furthermore, group identities are wrapped in symbols that can have particularly powerful appeal to individuals of that group or can alienate individuals from a competing or hostile group. (3) In U.S. politics, racial and ethnic identity creates one of the most enduring political and social groupings. (4) An extensive and multifaceted literature examines how race influences our understanding of political choices and voting, with scholars repeatedly finding substantial racial and ethnic differences in voters' political beliefs and preferences. (5) More controversial, however, is whether those differences translate into a preference for coethnic representation--that is, whether people prefer representatives who are the same ethnic background as they are, and whether that preference is inherently racial or reflects some other factor, such as party, that is correlated with race or ethnicity.

The conjecture that people prefer coethnic representation has driven legislation and litigation concerning voting rights for over half a century in the United States. The theory behind the Voting Rights Act (VRA) (6) and litigation on behalf of minority voters posits that black voters and Hispanic voters want representation by people of the same race or ethnicity as themselves. (7) Under such a conjecture, minorities' preferences for their "own" candidates mean that they have distinctive preferences or interests, and when combined with whites' preference for whites under a plurality system, minority voters would be unable to elect their preferred candidates without intentionally constructing districts around minority interests. (8) As a result, one of the most striking effects of the VRA has been the creation of a substantial number of congressional districts in which African Americans and Hispanics win seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and in state legislatures. (9) Such districts have been required in areas where (1) there is highly polarized voting along racial lines and (2) there are sufficient numbers of blacks and Hispanics to create districts where these groups can elect candidates they prefer. (10) Advocates and scholars argue that it is necessary to create majority or near majority-minority districts in order to ensure minorities have an equal opportunity to elect their preferred candidates or candidates of their own race, regardless of minority support for white candidates or the intentions of districtors. (11)

These majority-minority districts offer an important research opportunity. The significant number of minority representatives in Congress makes it possible to measure the degree of satisfaction that whites, blacks, and Hispanics express with representatives of their own race and of other races. After the 2010 elections, there were 68 black or Hispanic members of Congress and 359 white members of Congress. (12) How do blacks or Hispanics living in districts represented by whites feel about their members of Congress? How do whites living in districts represented by blacks or Hispanics feel about their members of Congress?

This Article examines two distinct, but often conflated, questions. First, to what extent does a representative's race or ethnicity affect how citizens evaluate that representative and whether citizens support that representative? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Do Americans Prefer Coethnic Representation? the Impact of Race on House Incumbent Evaluations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.