Book Reviews

Richard L. Engstrom
2005 American Review of Politics  
According to its author, Race, Ethnicity, and the Politics of City Redistricting: Minority-Opportunity Districts and the Election of Hispanics and Blacks to City Councils, was written to provide an accounting of the local redistricting dynamics that explain the difference between the theoretical maximum number of minority-opportunity districts drawn and the actual number of opportunity districts adopted. Joshua Behr couples the theoretical with the actual in an unorthodox methodological
more » ... hodological approach to explain "the election of descriptive representatives" (p. 14) because, he argues, local level inquiries have not answered questions about why some cities adopt minority-opportunity districts while other cities do not. Moreover, the absence of agreement on the particular size of the minority community to elect a candidate of choice varies from city to city; hence, Behr conducts separate analyses for city districts with at least 50, 55, and 60 percent minority voting-age population. This brief book synthesizes the debate surrounding redistricting and issues related to drawing city districts for the purpose of achieving descriptive representation for Hispanics and blacks. The underlying ". . . assumption of this research is that minority-opportunity districts are a precondition for the election of Hispanics and blacks to city councils" (p.103). The first three chapters are straightforward, as Behr describes and outlines his unorthodox methodological approach, the theoretical background, two general hypotheses (and sub-hypotheses), as well as several traditional redistricting variables. The remaining three substantive chapters describe the data, specify variables and corresponding hypotheses, as well as test models and report findings. Behr surveys 110 cities with 1990 populations of at least 150,000 that employ single-member district election format exclusively or in conjunction with at-large elections, and tests several hypotheses for the three elections subsequent to the 1990s round of redistricting, though he focuses primarily on testing two general hypotheses. Using a specified selection criterion, cities are selected based on a range of measures, including the theoretical capacity of the city to create minority-opportunity districts, citywide
doi:10.15763/issn.2374-7781.2004.25.0.373-381 fatcat:l7hrlsqaxzew5no25cvudfat4i