Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Jason A McDonald

Committee Co-Chair

Matthew Jacobsmeier

Committee Member

Rachael A Woldoff

Committee Member

Jeffrey Worsham


My dissertation combines knowledge from the opinion, racial and ethnic politics, and representation literatures to examine Black and Latino opinion and representation on racially salient issues. I theorize that representation of Blacks and Latinos is a "narrow" representation, much more in line with Black and Latino opinion on issues that are explicitly, rather than implicitly, racial. To test this theory, I build upon the literature by considering intersectional identity and multiple methods of representation. In Chapter 2, I examine two questions: when do income and racial group differences occur on racially salient issues, and if splits occur between respondents of higher and lower incomes according to the racialized nature of the issues, on which type of issues do government outputs respond better to either group? My approach extends Gilens's (2012) method for imputing opinion by income to racial groups. I find income can be an important driver of opinion for not only whites but also Blacks and Latinos. Government outputs on racially salient issues, however, do not seem to follow either Gilens's (2012) findings that high income opinion drives government, or Griffin and Newman's (2008) findings that African Americans experience better government representation on racially salient issues. Rather, Blacks' and Latinos' desire for change does not seem to drive government outputs on implicitly racial issues, and whites' desire for change does not seem to drive government outputs on explicitly racial issues. In Chapter 3, I move to consider descriptive representation and the effects of racially salient issues upon individual legislator responsiveness. Do African American and Latino legislators do a better job of representing low-income African Americans and low-income Latinos on two implicitly racial issues where their opinions are unique? I find that this is largely not the case, although Latino Republicans show some promise. In addition, a sponsorship analysis on both implicitly and explicitly racial issues shows that African American and Latino legislators are more active than other legislators in sponsoring legislation that supports low-income Black and Latino interests on immigration (an explicitly racial issue), but not different from other legislators in their sponsorship behavior for Iraq withdrawal (an implicitly racial issue). Moreover, chapter 3 reveals that large numbers of low-income Blacks and Latinos in districts have no bearing on the behavior of legislators in these analyses, including Black and Latino legislators. Finally, chapter 4 considers committee oversight, examining the influence of Black and Latino committee members, and of early 1990s redistricting, upon explicitly and implicitly racial oversight. Chapter 4 reveals a distinct difference after redistricting for implicitly racial issues, with the number of African American members heavily affecting such oversight after the 103rd Congress. This project builds understanding of racial disadvantage, and how it occurs in government.