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Issue Salience and Support for Civil Rights Legislation among Southern Democrats

Vincent L. Hutchings
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 23, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), pp. 521-544
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/440238
Page Count: 24
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Issue Salience and Support for Civil Rights Legislation among Southern Democrats
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Abstract

Does the size of their black constituency influence support for civil rights legislation among southern Democrats? Previous research on the subject has produced mixed results. I argue that part of the reason for this is that the voting indices typically used to measure constituency influence are invariably made up of both salient and more obscure roll calls. To illustrate this point I examine scores from the 1990 Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), along with two roll calls of similar impact yet markedly different levels of salience—the final vote on the 1990 Civil Rights Act and a less publicized amendment. I show that the size of the black constituency, as well as other district-level factors, was an important determinant of how southern Democratic House members voted on the 1990 Civil Rights Act, but not on the more obscure amendment or the overall LCCR scores.

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