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Doubling Down: Inequality in Responsiveness and the Policy Preferences of Elected Officials

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Forthcoming

54 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2014 Last revised: 11 Jan 2018

Matthew Mendez

California State University, Channel Islands

Christian R. Grose

University of Southern California

Date Written: January 10, 2018

Abstract

Is bias in responsiveness to constituents conditional on the policy preferences of elected officials? The scholarly conventional wisdom is that constituency groups who do not receive policy representation still obtain some level of responsiveness by legislators outside of the policy realm. In contrast, we present a theory of preference-induced responsiveness bias where constituency responsiveness by legislators is associated with legislator policy preferences. Elected officials who favor laws that could disproportionately impact minority groups are also less likely to engage in non-policy responsiveness to minority groups. We conducted a field experiment in 28 U.S. legislative chambers. Legislators were randomly assigned to receive messages from Latino and white constituents. If legislators supported voter identification laws, Latino constituents were less likely to receive constituency communications from their legislators. There are significant implications regarding fairness in the democratic process when elected officials fail to represent disadvantaged constituency groups in both policy and non-policy realms.

Keywords: voting rights, political science, legislator responsiveness, bias, voter ID, voter identification, legislatures, representation

Suggested Citation

Mendez, Matthew and Grose, Christian R., Doubling Down: Inequality in Responsiveness and the Policy Preferences of Elected Officials (January 10, 2018). Legislative Studies Quarterly, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2422596

Matthew Mendez

California State University, Channel Islands ( email )

One University Drive
Camarillo, CA 93012
United States

Christian R. Grose (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

Von KleinSmid Center, 327
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.christiangrose.com

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