Does the Political Environment Matter? Arab-American Representation and September 11th


  • The authors would like to thank Mac Avery, Joe Stewart, and the anonymous reviewers and editors at Social Science Quarterly for their helpful suggestions and comments.

Direct correspondence to Jeffrey A. Fine, Department of Political Science, Clemson University, 232 Brackett Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-1354 〈〉.



Studies of minority representation customarily focus on groups whose social position remains steady over the time period in question. We consider whether and how Arab-American representation shifted following September 11th as the group's social status changed rapidly.


We analyze the determinants of Senate voting alongside the Arab-American Institute from 2000 to 2008. We employ ordinary least square (OLS) regression models that account for the time series cross-sectional (TSCS) nature of our panel data.


Our findings suggest that Arab-American representation significantly declined in the wake of September 11th, both among Democratic and Republican senators. As the political environment improved over time, representation slowly rose in subsequent years.


We show that the quality of Arab-American representation declined after September 11th despite no significant change in either their size or in electoral outcomes. We also show that broad theories of minority representation apply to even small ethnic groups, as the determinants of Arab-American representation parallel those of African Americans and Latinos.