An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. We would like to thank the AJPS reviewers for their excellent comments, as well as Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Nick Theobald, and Rodolfo Espino for their helpful suggestions. Financial support for the analysis was provided by the Spencer Foundation and the Carlos Cantu Hispanic Education and Opportunity Endowment.
Structural Choices and Representational Biases: The Post-Election Color of Representation
Article first published online: 27 SEP 2005
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 49, Issue 4, pages 758–768, October 2005
How to Cite
Meier, K. J., Juenke, E. G., Wrinkle, R. D. and Polinard, J. L. (2005), Structural Choices and Representational Biases: The Post-Election Color of Representation. American Journal of Political Science, 49: 758–768. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2005.00153.x
- Issue published online: 27 SEP 2005
- Article first published online: 27 SEP 2005
Representation scholars link descriptive representation of blacks and Latinos in legislative bodies to substantive policy representation. We examine this relationship on local school boards where issue salience is high, the cost of gaining legislative access is relatively low, and nonpartisan elections produce a greater likelihood of linking policy preferences to racial cues. Theoretically, we connect substantive representation to the method of election; blacks and Latinos elected at-large face different constraints than their ward-elected counterparts, and thus behave differently on an at-large board than they would on a ward-elected one. This theoretical story suggests a number of hypotheses that we test using cross-sectional data from 1000+ school districts in Texas. Using OLS, we find that the type of election has significant direct and indirect effects on the hiring of black and Latino administrators and teachers to the school district, after controlling for other factors. We find that election type has descriptive representational effects for Latinos, but more importantly, electoral constraints produce variable substantive policy outcomes once both black and Latino officials take office.