Cause or effect? Turnout in hispanic majority-minority districts

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Authors John A. Henderson, Jasjeet S. Sekhon, Rocío Titiunik
Journal/Conference Name POLITICAL ANALYSIS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Legislative redistricting alters the political and electoral context for some voters but not others, thus offering a potentially promising research design to study many questions of interest in political science. We apply this design to study the effect that descriptive representation has on co-ethnic political engagement, focusing on Hispanic participation following California’s 2000 redistricting cycle. We show that when redistrictors draw legislative boundaries in California’s 1990, 2000 and 2010 apportionment cycles, they systematically sort higher participating Hispanic voters into majority-Hispanic (MH) jurisdictions represented by co-ethnic candidates, biasing subsequent comparisons of Hispanic participation across districts. Similar sorting occurs during redistricting in Florida and Texas, though here the pattern is reversed, with less participating Hispanic voters redistricted to MH districts. Our study highlights important heterogeneity in redistricting largely unknown or under-appreciated in previous research. Ignoring this selection problem could significantly bias estimates of the effect of Hispanic representation, either positively or negatively. After we correct for these biases using a hierarchical genetic matching algorithm, we find that, in California, being moved to a district with an Hispanic incumbent has little impact on Hispanic participation in our data.
Date of publication 2011
Code Programming Language R
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