Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Richard Engstrom

Second Advisor

Chris Day

Third Advisor

Edward Chervenak


In the post-1990 round of redistricting a number of majority-African American legislative districts were created, especially in the South. The new majority-African American districts were created by “pulling” many of the African Americans from surrounding districts into a single district, leaving the adjacent districts with a higher percentage of whites. These adjacent districts are often referred to as “bleached” districts. As the number of African Americans elected in the new majority-African American districts increased, so did the number of Republicans. This is referred to as the “perverse effect thesis.” This thesis has been widely acclaimed, but scholars have found minimal support for the thesis. There is an alternative explanation for the Republican growth. This explanation attributes it to the fact that, regardless of their distance from majority-African American districts; more southern whites are voting for Republican candidates.

Generally, when scholars examine the perverse effect thesis, they have examined the twelve new southern majority-African American United States House of Representative districts that were created after the 1990 census. This study deviates from the prior studies that examine the perverse effect thesis. This study seeks to determine how many of the Republican gains in southern state lower chambers are attributable to the new majority-African American districts in these chambers from 1988 to 2004. It examines both the perverse effect thesis and the alternative hypothesis. Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi were used in this study. These states were used because they are part of the Deep South, and they are protected by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Deep Southern states have a larger African American population compared to the Rim states. This study found evidence supporting both the perverse effect thesis and the alternative hypothesis.


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