Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Paru Shah

Committee Members

Thomas Holbrook, Kathleen Dolan, Joel Rast


inequality, local politics, representation, urban politics


The nature of the connection between what citizens want and what government does is a central consideration in evaluating the strengths and weakness of democratic governance. A large body of research in “mainstream” American politics literature examines the link between public opinion and responsiveness at the national, state, and district level, generally finding that outcomes reflect citizen preferences. However, much less is known about the relationship at the municipal level. Cities offer a distinctive opportunity to test for the presence of ideological representation as well as the presence of unequal representation and its consequences. Using data on both the aggregate ideological character of cities as well as disaggregated ideological preferences within cities, I am able to systematically examine representation at the municipal level. In doing so, my work bridges insights from scholarship in the fields of American political behavior, urban politics, and political methodology. In the analyses that follow, I find that public opinion is reflected in city politics, but the relationship is conditional on several elements, including policy type, constituent demographics, and institutional arrangements.