Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Nathan J. Kelly

Committee Members

Anthony J. Nownes, Adam J. Newmark, Christopher J. Ojeda


The Latino population has experienced significant growth in the last few decades, and as a result of that growth, the Latino population is now the largest minority group in the U.S. Despite this, our understanding of the attitudes, behavior, and representation of this group still lags relative to others in American society. As a result of that growth, the Latino population is now the largest minority group in the U.S. Amongst other things, which is why there is a need to explore how this group is represented in government. Prior work – be it due to data limitations, the low number of Latinos in office, or theoretical considerations – has been unable to provide an adequate picture of the level of representation afforded to Latinos. This study is an attempt to add to our understanding of Latino representation in the U.S. I do this through the presentation of three distinct but interrelated papers. The first paper looks at the level of congruence between Latinos and their legislators relative to non-Latino whites and their legislators. This paper finds that Latinos are at a disadvantage, one that is exacerbated in contexts where they make up larger segments of the population. In addition, I find that this disadvantage is rooted in both the attitudes and behavior of both Anglos and Latinos. The second paper explores legislative communication on Twitter with respect to the interests of the Latino population. I find that Latino and Democratic legislators are more likely to post about issues important to Latinos. I also find that there is a difference in the behavior of Latino and non-Latino legislators attributable to legislator ethnicity, with Latino legislators more likely to post symbolic messages than their non-Latino colleagues. The third paper explores the role of legislator ethnicity in policy framing on bilingual education. I find that shared ethnicity, or rather the lack thereof, between legislators and respondents does influence support for bilingual education in certain situations. Collectively, these papers provide a clearer picture of the relationship between legislators and their constituents and of the role that legislator characteristics and district demographics play in influencing legislative behavior.

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