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Estimating Racially Polarized Voting: A View from the States

Daron R. Shaw
Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 49-74
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the University of Utah
DOI: 10.2307/449028
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/449028
Page Count: 26
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Estimating Racially Polarized Voting: A View from the States
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Abstract

In the aftermath of the 1990 United States Census, much attention is being paid to the drawing of electoral districts. Leaders of the black and Latino communities are among the most interested in these enterprises because they see districting as a way for white majorities to minimize the prospects for electing minority representatives. Decidedly less attention is being paid to the use of ecological regression in evaluating districting arrangements. Ecological regression, long viewed with caution by social scientists, is especially important in ruling on racial polarization in voting rights cases. The courts' reliance on ecological regression is a product of the lack of reliable district-level survey data on individual-level preferences. This study focuses on the potential pitfalls of using aggregate-level data to infer intergroup voting differences. The design compares ecological regression estimates of group voting behavior in each of the states with estimates gleaned from national tracking polls for the 1992 presidential election. The data show that the technique detects racial polarization in states, though the accuracy of ecological regression's point estimates is variable.

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