SIRIP Presents- Bernard Fraga (University of Indiana)-“Separating Race and Party in Congressional Elections.”

February 22, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Theories of race and representation suggest that the racial/ethnic group composing a majority of the electorate gains co-ethnic representation, contrasting with both observational evidence and party-based understandings of who gets elected to Congress. I reconcile these notions by examining the emergence and success of over 7,200 White, Black, Latino, and Asian American congressional candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties from 2006-2016. I find race plays a dominant role in determining who seeks office and who wins primary elections, and that incumbents are more likely to face a challenge from a non-co-ethnic when there is a “mismatch” between incumbent race and district demographics. Regardless of nominee race, however, partisanship determines general election outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity approach that leverages close primary elections, I find no evidence that minority candidates face a penalty after winning their party’s nomination. These analyses clarify the distinct roles of race and party in producing contemporary election results, and outline the conditions necessary to advance representational equality.

Location and Address

4500 WW Posvar Hall