Local Origins: Context, Group identity, and the politics of place

Forthcoming at Political Research Quarterly

In-group identity is particularly important in understanding political behavior among minority populations living in the U.S. Despite its importance, we know relativity little about what explains variation in perceptions of perceptions of group identity among U.S. based minority groups. I develop a theoretical framework drawing extensively for Social Identity theory to explain development of in-group identities among Latinos in the U.S. I suggest the the availability of neighborhood level ethnic stimuli increases the likelihood that Latinos will come to see themselves a part of pan-ethnic group rather than a unique individual. I use the 2008 Collaborative Multi-Racial Political Survey (CMPS), a nationally representative public opinion poll of registered voters with oversamples of Latino respondents. I find that the availability of ethnic stimuli positively associates with stronger perceptions of group identity among Latinos. Latinos who live in contexts rich with ethnic stimuli and cues are more likely to adopt in-group identities than those who live in environments lacking ethnically salient resources. 

It Depends on the “Treatment”: Revisiting a Key Link in Contextual Theories of Political Behavior

Forthcoming at Research and Politics

The use of self-reported contextual factors is prominent in political science. Although this research is promising, relatively little work has considered how well respondents perceive their immediate surroundings. In this paper, I examine the relationship between census mea- sured racial and ethnic composition and respondents’ perceived neighborhood composition. I then consider the relationship between these measures and political attitudes. I use the 2008 and 2012 CMPS datasets as well as U.S. census data. I find that respondents’ perceived neighborhood composition is responsive to census measured composition. Respondents who live in areas with a higher proportion of a racial/ethnic group are more likely to perceived that their neighborhood is composed of that group. I also show preliminary evidence that while perceived composition is responsive to census measured composition, the relationship between these measures and attitudes are not identical. Given these findings, scholars should exercise caution when conflating measurements of contextual factors.

Selective Recruitment or Voter Neglect? Race, Place, and Voter Mobilization in 2016

With Ricardo Ramiez and Romelia Solano. Forthcoming at Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

Since the 2016 Presidential Election, media pundits and political scientists alike have turned their attention to the study of white working class voters in an attempt to understand the Democratic Party's inability to garner support from this segment of the electorate. This paper takes up the question of who asks racial ethnic minority voters to vote, relative to white voters? We examine more closely the targeted mobilization strategies in the 2016 Presidential election cycle and highlight the roles of race, state context, and mobilization source on patterns of reported mobilization. Utilizing the 2016 Collaborative Multi-Racial Post-Election Survey we model the impact of demographic profiles on the probability of any kind of mobilization and compare that to co-ethnic mobilization. Our analysis suggests that even when controlling for battleground context and likely voter characteristics, minority voters are neglected, but this is contingent on the racial demographics of those doing the mobilizing. These findings shed light on the discrepancy of turnout across racial and ethnic groups in the United States (U.S.).

The Political Incorporation of Muslims in the United States: The Mobilizing Role of Religiosity in Islam

With Karam Dana and Matt Barreto. Forthcoming at Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, popular perceptions in the U.S., especially among political elites, continue to believe that religious Muslims oppose American democratic traditions and values. While many studies find positive relationships between mosque attendance and civic participation among U.S. Muslims, an empirical and theoretical puzzle continues to exist. What is missing is research that examines the relationships between the multi-dimensional concept of religiosity and how this is associated with public opinion and attitudes towards the American political system among Muslim Americans. Using a unique national survey of Muslim Americans, we find a positive relationship between religious beliefs, behavior and belonging and perceptions of compatibility with American democratic traditions. Quite simply, the most religious are the most likely to believe in political integration in the U.S.

Survey Methodology and the Latina/o Vote: Why a Bilingual, Bicultural, Latino-centered Approach Matters

With Tyler Reny and Matt Barreto. Forthcoming at Aztlan 

In this article, we briefly summarize the academic literature on Latino political behavior, explain why understanding the attitudes of subgroups requires pollsters sensitive to the populations they study, and present a novel analysis of real vote data that suggests that Clinton did, as expected, surpass Obama’s margin of victory among Latino voters. Analyzing 29,045,522 votes from 39,118 electoral precincts across 10 states, we show that Latino Decisions polling was far closer to the actual vote returns than the Edison Exit Poll. We conclude by looking to the future of the Latino electorate and polling in U.S. elections.

El peso del voto Latino en 2016

With Sergio I. Garcia-Rios, Angela X. Ocampo, and Tyler Reny. Foreign Affairs Latinoamerica Volumen 17, Numero 1.

In this article we use precinct level election and demographic data to estimate Latino 2016 presidential general election votes in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. We find that Trump won an estimated 16% of the Latino vote, a historic low and well below Exit Poll estimates. 

Working Papers


Direct and Indirect Xenophobic Attacks: Unpacking Portfolios of Identity

With Sergio Garcia Rios and Francisco Pedraza (Revise and Resubmit)

Political threats are typically conceptualized by scholars as targeting particular groups of people. We call for also conceptualizing threats as political attacks directed towards particular facets of an individual’s identity portfolio. We reason that individual political responses to political attacks depend on the strength of identity with the group under attack, just as Social Identity Theory anticipates, but we contend that responses also depends on the shared social categories across an identity portfolio. Drawing on data from 2006 - 2016, we compare the political assessments of various presidential candidates between Mexican heritage Latinos and other non-Mexican heritage Latinos. Given the specificity of the rhetoric towards Mexican heritage Latinos in 2016, we find evidence that Mexicans and non-Mexicans cast distinct judgments of Donald Trump. Yet, we observe no comparable distinction in prior electoral contexts, suggesting that 2016 uniquely politicized the responses among Mexican heritage Latinos.