Revisiting Majority-Minority Districts and Black Representation

William D. Hicks, Carl E. Klarner, Seth C. McKee, Daniel A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


What is the minimum black population necessary to elect African-American state lawmakers? We offer the most comprehensive examination of the election of black state legislators in the post-Thornburg v. Gingles (1986) era. We begin by charting changes in the partisan affiliation of state legislators and the percentage of black legislators from 1971 to 2016. This descriptive assessment is undertaken according to important regional (Non-South and South) and subregional (Rim South and Deep South) contexts in American politics. We then perform multivariate analyses of the likelihood of electing black legislators across three periods following the marked increase in the creation of majority-minority districts (1993–1995, 2003–2005, 2013–2015). Because of sectional variation in the partisan strength of the major parties, the probability of achieving black representation is significantly different depending upon whether a contest occurs in the Non-South, Rim South, or Deep South, with the latter constituting of the highest threshold of black population necessary to elect an African-American. By merging an original dataset on state legislative elections with the most complete evaluation of the factors shaping the election of black lawmakers, our findings shed new light on minority representation and how sectional differences greatly affect the electoral success of African-Americans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-423
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Deep South
  • Rim South
  • black representation
  • majority-minority districts
  • state legislative elections


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