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The Political Representation of Blacks in Congress: Does Race Matter?

Katherine Tate
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 2001), pp. 623-638
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/440272
Page Count: 16
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The Political Representation of Blacks in Congress: Does Race Matter?
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Abstract

Congressional scholars generally take the position that members of Congress don't have to descriptively mirror their constituents in order to be responsive. Yet ample scholarship has shown that legislators work very hard at identifying with their constituents, at conveying the impression that they are alike in interests and opinions. Matching the race of the House member to their constituents' ratings in the 1996 National Black Election Study, I find that blacks consistently express higher levels of satisfaction with their representation in Washington when that representative is black, even controlling for other characteristics of the legislators, such as political party. This study underscores the value of descriptive representation in the black community and highlights the need for additional empirically based studies of political representation.

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