Minority Report

Evaluating Political Equality in America

by John D. Griffin, Brian Newman

Series: American Politics and Political Economy Series

Are the views of Latinos and African Americans underrepresented in our federal government?  For that matter, what does it mean to be represented equitably? Rather than taking for granted a single answer to these complex questions, John Griffin and Brian Newman use different measures of political equality to reveal which groups get what they want from government and what factors lead to their successes.
 
One of the first books to compare the representation of both African Americans and Latinos to that of whites, Minority Report shows that congressional decisions and federal policy tend to mirror the preferences of whites as a group and as individuals better than the preferences of either minority group, even after accounting for income disparities. This is far from the whole story, though, and the authors’ multifaceted approach illustrates the surprising degree to which group population size, an issue’s level of importance, the race or ethnicity of an office holder, and electoral turnout can affect how well government action reflects the views of each person or group. Sure to be controversial, Minority Report ultimately goes beyond statistical analyses to address the root question of what equal representation really means.

In The Press

“This is an impressive book. Griffin and Newman address an important question by seeking to uncover whether or not the policy preferences of White citizens are more likely than the views of Latinos and African Americans to be reflected in governmental policy outputs. Many scholars have speculated about these issues but, to my knowledge, no one has explored this question as effectively. Scholars in the fields of minority politics, race and representation, and racial attitudes will regard this as a significant contribution to the literature.”

— Vincent Hutchings, University of Michigan

“The most comprehensive treatment to date of racial representation in Congress, this book makes novel contributions by focusing on the relative—in addition to the absolute—representation of minority interests and by using several measures of racial equality in the Senate as well as the House.”

— David Canon, University of Wisconsin–Madison

"Advance(s) our understanding of representation in America and should be on the reading lists of scholars interested in theories of representation, minority representation in Congress, and racial political equality. . . . What is particularly noteworthy is that Griffin and Newman compare substantive representation of whites, blacks, and Hispanics—one of the first major efforts to analyze these three groups together. They also examine minority representation in the U.S. Senate, one of the first thorough efforts to do so. Griffin and Newman improve on previous work by using survey data to estimate the policy preferences of blacks and Hispanics."
— Charles Tien, Polity

"Minority Report establishes a new standard that will immediately be recognized as the central study of political equiality across racial and ethnic lines. The book brings together an impressive array of theories, research questions, and data to provide the most comprehensive analysis of these issues to date."
— Barry C. Burden, Public Opinion Quarterly

About The Author

John D. Griffin is assistant professor of political science at University of Notre Dame. Brian Newman is assistant professor of political science at Pepperdine University.