Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 12 > Issue 2

Testing Models of Unequal Representation: Democratic Populists and Republican Oligarchs?

Jesse H. Rhodes, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, jrhodes@polsci.umass.edu Brian F. Schaffner, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, schaffne@polsci.umass.edu
Suggested Citation
Jesse H. Rhodes and Brian F. Schaffner (2017), "Testing Models of Unequal Representation: Democratic Populists and Republican Oligarchs?", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 12: No. 2, pp 185-204. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00016077

Published: 06 Sep 2017
© 2017 J. H. Rhodes and B. F. Schaffner
Congress,  Democracy,  Political Parties,  Representation
Economic inequalityInequality of representationUnequal representation

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In this article:
Economic inequality and political representation
Models of income and representation
Test 1: Catalist data
Test 2: CCES data


Recent studies indicate that the wealthy receive more representation from their members of Congress, though this relationship may be more pronounced in Republican compared to Democratic districts. However, drawbacks in existing survey data hamper efforts to delineate the relationship between income and representation with precision, especially at the highest income levels. In this paper we use new data to explore the relationship between wealth, the party identity of elected officials, and representation in greater depth. We develop several alternative models of the relationship between income and representation, and compare them with models employed in previous empirical research. We test each of these models, using two different data sets containing large numbers of wealthy individuals and very granular measures of income. Our results suggest that individuals with Democratic congressional representatives experience a fundamentally different type of representation than do individuals with Republican representatives. Individuals with Democratic representatives encounter a mode of representation best described as ``populist,'' in which the relationship between income and representation is flat (if not negative). However, individuals with Republican representatives experience an ``oligarchic'' mode of representation, in which wealthy individuals receive much more representation than those lower on the economic ladder.


Online Appendix | 100.00016077_app.pdf

This is the article's accompanying appendix.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00016077_app

Replication Data | 100.00016077_supp.zip (ZIP).

This file contains the data that is required to replicate the data on your own system.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00016077_supp