Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Major Professor

David J. Houston

Committee Members

Patricia K. Freeland, John M. Scheb, Derek H. Alderman

Abstract

Despite an abundance of research on the impacts of city-county consolidation, the majority of studies to date have focused on outcomes related to efficiency, effectiveness, and economic development. However, two areas which have gone relatively unexplored, particularly from a quantitative perspective, relate to the impact of consolidation on minority representation, as well as the determinants of successful referenda often required in establishing these forms of government. The existing literature on representation is sparse, and often relies on anecdotes or a small number of individual examples. Further, while several in-depth studies have attempted to assess the factors which contribute to successful and unsuccessful consolidation attempts, analyses often rely on qualitative assessments of aggregate results and macro-level dynamics.

Using a variety of data and methods, this study presents new perspectives on these under-explored aspects of consolidation. In examining African American representation, this analysis provides both aggregate and county-by-county results showing that while representation has increased in most consolidated governments, a great deal of progress remains in order to reach parity. Further, individual county results raise questions about the negative impact consolidation continues to have, including in more recent cases, and in states formerly covered under preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Additionally, with regard to consolidation campaigns, findings reveal that race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status play a large role in voting patterns related to referenda approval. Together, these results provide further insights on factors contributing to consolidation approval, as well as the potential impacts that adopting a new form of government will have on the African American community. In all, these findings have implications for academics, elected officials, and reformers who wish to better understand the nature of consolidation campaigns, and serves as a reminder of the continuing challenges faced in trying to achieve equitable representation in local government.

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