The Institutional and Demographic Determinants of Latino Representation



Under what conditions are Latino candidates elected to Congress and state legislatures? How much does the ethnic composition of a district affect the chances that a Latino candidate will be elected in that district? Latinos constitute the single largest minority group in the country, one that is growing at an exponential rate. Post-2000 redistricting created more majority-Latino districts, but the absolute number of Latino legislators did not increase correspondingly. My analysis demonstrates that states with citizen legislatures and with higher legislative turnover rates are more conducive to the election of Latino candidates than are other states. Institutional and demographic differences among states affect the states' Latino descriptive representation. Namely, the institutional design of the legislature matters in terms of electoral responsiveness, with Arizona and California being the most responsive bodies and New York and the U.S. House the least responsive.