By: Jennifer Wolak, University of Colorado Boulder
Published: 09 June 2019
Political knowledge is an incredible political resource for citizens, promoting informed voter decision-making and helping citizens hold their elected officials accountable. But it is a resource that is not equitably distributed in the electorate, as blacks, Latinos, and Asian-Americans are significantly less politically informed than whites. We explore the degree to which knowledge shortfalls reflect the underrepresentation of minority legislators in Congress. Using data from the 2006–2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we explore the relationship between both general and specific political knowledge and descriptive representation in Congress. We show that when those in the minority are descriptively represented by co-racial and co-ethnic legislators in Congress, knowledge gaps between whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asian-Americans are diminished.
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