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Title: Essays on Representation & Local American Political Institutions
Authors: Magazinnik, Asya
Advisors: McCarty, Nolan
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: at-large elections
local politics
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines how local governments in the United States represent their constituencies, paying attention to both descriptive representation and policymaking. I focus on two recent developments in American politics that raise new questions about federalism and democratic institutions. The first is the emergent regime of intergovernmental cooperation in interior immigration enforcement, which engages local actors in the enactment of federal policies and grants them an unprecedented degree of discretion. In my first chapter, I develop and test a novel theory addressing when and why intergovernmental cooperation might arise in a federal system. My theory yields predictions about who voluntarily participates in such a regime and the implications for policy outcomes. These predictions are supported by an empirical analysis of immigration detention patterns across the United States. A second important development has been the movement from at-large to district elections for local office, which began with the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 and is now building strength across the nation. More recently, California passed its own, stronger VRA, which aimed to use institutional design to amplify the voices of underrepresented minorities in government by drawing electoral maps that maximize those groups’ prospects of capturing legislative seats. My assessment of the success of this reform in increasing the descriptive representation of Latinos in California--the first to causally identify the effects of district versus at-large elections--is generally positive. However, my analysis identifies two key conditions for success to which reformers have not paid sufficient attention: the size and residential segregation of the district. The third chapter analyzes the developments from the first two chapters in concert. I find that the empowerment of Latinos in the transition from at-large to district elections in California significantly decreased local law enforcement’s willingness to cooperate with federal authorities in immigration enforcement. Taken together, my findings reveal how variation in local institutions interacts with increasing local control to generate divergent policy outcomes.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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