Race, Ethnicity, and U.S. House Incumbent Evaluations

Regina P. Branton, Erin C. Cassese And Bradford S. Jones
Published in
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Publication Date


This article considers evaluations of U.S. House incumbents under conditions of racial/ethnic congruence and incongruence. We consider whether different racial groups have ordered preferences among nondescriptive alternatives. We pose two theoretical models of descriptive representation and test them using pooled National Election Study data. After controlling for the propensity to recall the Member of Congress, we find the extent of favoritism towards descriptive representatives varies across groups, as does the preference ordering among representatives of different racial and ethnic identification. No evidence of race-based judgment is uncovered among African Americans, while Latinos and Whites demonstrate preferences based on race and ethnicity.