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Descriptive Representation, District Demography, and Attitudes toward Congress among African Americans

Thomas L. Brunell, Christopher J. Anderson and Rachel K. Cremona
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 33, No. 2 (May, 2008), pp. 223-244
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40263456
Page Count: 22
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Descriptive Representation, District Demography, and Attitudes toward Congress among African Americans
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Abstract

We examined the effects of subjective and objective descriptive representation and district demography on African Americans' attitudes toward their member of Congress and the U.S. Congress as an institution. We investigated whether or not African Americans in more-racially homogeneous districts differ in their attitudes from counterparts in districts with fewer African Americans. We also studied the effects of descriptive representation and district demography to determine if these effects are contingent on voters' perceptions of descriptive representation. We found that living in a district with a higher proportion of blacks enhances African American voters' feelings toward their representative and marginally elevates these voters' evaluations of Congress. This effect is mediated, however, by the election of a black representative to Congress.

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