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The Intersection of Redistricting, Race, and Participation


  • Authors' names appear in alphabetical order. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2009 meeting of the American Political Science Association. We thank Matt Cleary, Michael Martinez, Marc Hendershot, Dan Smith, seminar participants at the University of Florida, several anonymous referees, and the editor for helpful comments. Data are available at

Danny Hayes is Assistant Professor of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University, 230 Ward Circle Building, Washington, DC 20016 ( Seth C. McKee is Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of History and Politics, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 7th Ave S., DAV 258, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (


The drawing of congressional district lines can significantly reduce political participation in U.S. House elections, according to recent work. But such studies have failed to explain which citizens’ voting rates are most susceptible to the dislocating effects of redistricting and whether the findings are generalizable to a variety of political contexts. Building on this nascent literature and work on black political participation, we show that redistricting's negative effects on participation—measured by voter roll-off in U.S. House elections—are generally strongest among African Americans, but that black voters can be mobilized when they are redrawn into a black representative's congressional district. Our findings, based on data from 11 postredistricting elections in five states from 1992 through 2006, both expand the empirical scope of previous work and suggest that redistricting plays a previously hidden role in affecting black participation in congressional contests.