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Legislator Outreach and Minority Representation in State Legislatures

Sun, September 3, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Union Square, Nob Hill 2 & 3


Although representatives may not be distinctive across different racial and ethnic groups in roll call votes when they are representing similar constituencies, recent scholarship shows distinctiveness for minority representatives from white representatives because of informal legislative actions that increase substantive representation for minority groups along with enhanced constituency services. These informal actions are later reflected in racially tailored legislator outreach within the district. These activities can include ribbon cutting ceremonies, town hall meetings, commencement addresses, and many other events without explicit electoral content. I construct a dataset that matches members of state legislators by district demographics to determine whether and to what extent the race of a representative determines the audience for these activities. I narrow the objects of analysis to districts with a significant percentage of both African American and Latina/o constituents; almost all are represented by African American or Latina/o state legislators. The extent to which minority representatives tailor in-district legislator events to their own racial or ethnic group will be addressed through analysis of a data set containing the events held by state legislators within their districts. In addition, whether this in district behavior is reflected in state legislatures by patterns of bill and resolution sponsorship will be investigated.