Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

James C. Garand

Abstract

There have been many claims made that the creation of the majority-black district has led to a more conservative Congress, both in terms of roll-call voting behavior and partisan membership. I contend that there is a direct relationship and an indirect relationship between the creation of majority-black districts and increased conservatism in the House. The direct relationship focuses on the roll-call voting behavior of the House member. The indirect relationship focuses on the partisan makeup of the House. The analysis is couched in broad-based rational choice theory, asserting that incumbent House members and prospective House candidates behave strategically in an effort to achieve electoral success. In addition, I assert that the 1990s redistricting yield ongoing and lasting effects. The dissertation is divided into roll-call voting behavior and candidate emergence analyses. According to the roll-call voting behavior analysis, House members respond to the changes in racial composition directly after redistricting, but do not remain responsive several years after redistricting. Instead, House members respond to the level of black population in the mid-1990s. The responsiveness differs for non-white and white House members. The larger the black population, the more liberal the non-white House member and the more conservative the white House member. Thus, House members in 1995/1996 are not responding to the changes in racial composition, but rather to the level of black population. According to the candidate emergence analysis, in 1994, House members who were not responsive to changes in the racial composition of their district were faced with higher quality challengers. Furthermore, the higher quality challengers tended to identify with the Republican Party. When focusing on the South, lack of responsiveness again attracts higher quality candidates. However, the candidates are no more likely to identify with either party. The race-based redistricting of the 1990s did have some immediate effects and may have indirectly influenced the increased conservatism in the House of Representatives. However, there does not appear to be strong evidence to suggest that the redistricting produced direct or long-term effects toward conservatism in the House.

ISBN

9780591904956

Pages

152

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