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Objectives. This research note explores whether the system of assigning each state equal representation in the U.S. Senate adversely affects racial minorities, groups that often have common political interests. We also project changes in minority representation over the next 20 years using Census data.

Methods. We develop a new method of assessing racial bias due to apportionment, which calculates the number of seats lost by groups due to equal representation, a more substantively meaningful statistic than correlational measures.

Results. We find that both African Americans and Hispanics are substantially underrepresented due to their greater presence in high-population states as compared to in low-population states. Whereas bias against African Americans appears to be falling, the demographic patterns of Hispanics will make them even more underrepresented in coming years.

Conclusions. These findings are especially consequential considering that malapportionment has important public policy implications, including greater per-capita distributive benefits for smaller states. Further, given that the Senate serves as a major veto point in U.S. politics, racial bias due to equal apportionment may have a significant impact on current and future political debates relevant to minority groups.