The Unequal Representation of Latinos and Whites


John D. Griffin is assistant professor of political science, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN 46556. Brian Newman is assistant professor of political science, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA 90263.


We compare the ideological proximity of Latinos and whites to their Members of Congress (MCs), demonstrating the degree to which Latinos are underrepresented compared to whites. We show how this representation gap varies with group differences in electoral turnout and income, district ethnic composition, and MCs' ethnicity and party affiliation. We find that Latinos' unequal representation is not simply a function of the group's numerical minority status. Concentrating Latinos in congressional districts does not necessarily translate into more equal representation. However, several factors can enhance the equality of Latinos' representation—participation in elections and representation by both Latinos and Democrats.