Descriptive Representation and Latino Interest Bill Sponsorship in Congress


  • *Direct correspondence to Walter Wilson, Department of Political Science and Geography, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249 〈〉. Dr. Wilson will share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study.


Objective. This article examines dynamics related to the sponsorship of Latino interest bills in Congress. I focus particularly on the influence of Latino representatives.

Methods. I employ an original data set that includes all bills sponsored during the 109th Congress (2005–2006) and use negative binomial and standard OLS regression techniques to test hypotheses that Latino representatives are more active sponsors of Latino interest bills than non-Latino representatives.

Results. Findings demonstrate that both the size of Latino constituencies in congressional districts and descriptive representation significantly and positively predict Latino interest bill sponsorship. Descriptive representation appears particularly influential regarding sponsorship of bills that deal with Latino concerns explicitly.

Conclusion. The analysis establishes that descriptive representation enhances the substantive representation of Latinos in bill sponsorship. An important aspect of this phenomenon is a legislative style on the part of Latino representatives that more openly, actively, and specifically embraces the interests of Latino constituencies in policy proposals.