The Impact of Constituency Diversity upon the Competitiveness
of U.S. House Elections, 1962–96
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXIII:561-73

There are many good reasons to expect that the diversity of a constituency should impact electoral competitiveness. However, in the face of these strong expectations, the empirical record that has sought to quantify this relationship is at best mixed. The work by Bond (1983) is an excellent example. Using a measure of diversity (the Sullivan Index) common to other researchers, Bond’s investigation of House races in the 1970s revealed no relationship between district diversity and competitiveness. The principle finding of this study is that much of the confusion in the literature is caused by the measure of diversity used: the Sullivan Index measures the absolute, not political, diversity of a constituency. Thus, I develop and examine a measure of diversity that assumes constituency characteristics have differential partisan impact. Use of this measure clearly demonstrates that for House elections held between 1962 and 1996, diverse House districts experienced significantly more electoral competition than did relatively less diverse House districts.

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