Book Project: “A Racial and Ethnic Tune in the Pluralist Heaven: Achieving Representation Through Racial Minority Interest Groups in the United States

Racial minority interest groups (RMIGs), like the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP) are organizations that lobby and influence policy for and on behalf of ethnic and racial minorities. They act as mechanisms to unify individuals, provide insider access, and voice the concerns and grievances of historically marginalized groups. Many scholars contend that the lobbying system is biased towards and dominated by wealthy and elite interests. Relative to traditional interest groups, RMIGs represent members with fewer financial resources to contribute to organizational lobbying efforts and who are on the periphery of power in politics. Hence, they are expected to have little or no influence on policymaking. Is this empirically the case? Furthermore, are they good representatives of the folks they purport to represent? Little work has been done to understand how RMIGs function and their strategies to successfully achieve their policy goals. This project fills in this gap within the literature on organizations, social movements, and representation to provide insight into racial minority interest group lobbying dynamics and dispel some of the uncertainty surrounding them.

Using an original data set of over 250,000 California committee bill analyses from 1997-to 2017, I show the types of bills that racial minority interest groups care about and examine the conditions that predict how successful they are in passing and stopping bills. I theorize and argue that we cannot clearly understand RMIGs through the classical literature on traditional interest groups because of their origins, rooted in the civil rights and racial justice movements of the 1960s, and their trajectory as organizations wholly dedicated to advocacy in racialized domains. I show that RMIGs are just as active as a large segment of interest group organizations, generally participate in large and diverse coalitions, and pass or kill bills at similar rates as non-RMIGs when they can build large and diverse coalitions. I also find that Latinx, Black, and Asian RMIGs share similar policy topics of interest but have niche topic areas too. They generally lobby on healthcare, social services, and civil rights, which reflect the overall interests of racial minorities. These findings suggest a more nuanced and optimistic view of racial minority representations in lobbying than previously considered and show that this is a viable way for racial minorities to influence the policy process.

Race and Ethnic Politics Lab at UC San Diego:

I am also a proud founding member of the new REP Lab at UC San Diego. Led by Professors Marisa Abrajano and LaGina Gause, the REP Lab is an inclusive site for collaboration that prioritizes theoretically innovative and community-centered work. As part of the lab, I am working on a project called Best Practices for Advancing Racial Justice via Social Media: A Partnership between UC San Diego Political Scientists and San Diego Grassroots Organizations. Our research partnered with four local grassroots organizations working to advance racial justice by examining their social media strategies and providing useful analysis for their outreach programs. Please see for more information!


Flatt, Henry, and Do, Nhat-Dang. 2023.“Analytical Bureaucracy and Bill Passage: Evidence from California.” The American Review of Public Administration.

Do, Nhat-Dang. 2022. “Influence Through Diversity and Size: The Success of Racial Minority Interest Groups (RMIGs) Lobbying Coalitions.” CUSP Working Paper No. 2022-3. London: University College London.

Work in progress:

Do, Nhat-Dang. “Achieving Representation Through Racial Minority Interest Groups (RMIGS) in the United States”. 

 Do, Nhat-Dang. “Reliable Representatives: Racial Minority Interest Group (RMIG) Lobbying Topics and Salient Issues”.

2020 Do, Nhat-Dang. “Achieving Representation Through Racial Minority Interest Groups
(RMIG) in the United States: Lobbying Activity in Legislative Politics.” Race and
Ethnicity Workshop: San Diego, CA

2018 Do, Nhat-Dang. “Racial Minority Interest Group Signaling: A Mediating Force in
Legislative Voting Behavior?” Politics of Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity Consortium:
San Diego, CA.

2017 Do, Nhat-Dang. “Close Relationships: Interest Group and Legislator Networks in the
California State Legislator.” Omi-Methods Research Group: San Diego, CA

2015 Do, Nhat-Dang. “The Legitimacy of Repression: The History of Martial Law in
Palestine.” UC San Diego Library Research Prize Poster Session: San Diego, CA

2015 Do, Nhat-Dang. “Political Maneuvering: Analyzing Politicians’ Response to the
Immigration Debate in the 2014 Midterm Elections.” Senior Honors Thesis Conference:
San Diego, CA.

2014 Do, Nhat-Dang. “Immigration and Representation: Measuring Candidates’
Responsiveness to Changing Demographics.” Leadership Alliance National Symposium:
Stamford, CT.