Latino Politics More Diverse Than Pundits Recently Assert
    By News Staff | July 10th 2013 01:17 PM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    In the 2012 presidential election, seven out of 10 Latino immigrants voted for President Obama. News pundits declared the Latino vote as unattainable for the Republican Party.

    Yet Latinos voted for President George W. Bush - and as governor too. While African-Americans are regarded as solidly one-sided, Latinos are courted by both parties because their votes are 'in play', they are not voting for one party despite what news media claims. They are socially conservative and religious, which are Republican strengths, yet want immigration reform, which Democrats champion.

    Recent electoral trends in U.S. elections are in defiance of the center or center-right ideologies among Mexican immigrants, notes University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist Sergio Wals in Electoral Studies. But illegal immigration is a hot topic and they have sided with reform and amnesty rather than a hard line.

    "If you look at survey data from Mexico, from 25 years ago -- which is systematic, good empirical evidence -- and you look at the distribution of ideological preferences, it remains fairly stable for the most part. But it has always been heavier on the center, center-right than on the left," Wals said. "I know there's been a historic trend where anywhere from 60 percent to the current 70-plus percent of the Hispanic vote has gone Democratic, but there are clear exceptions to these national trends."

    Wals, an assistant professor of political science, said the parties in power in his home country of Mexico over the last 35 years have implemented right-leaning economic policies. It makes sense, then, that many immigrants come to the United States with more conservative views.

    He points to other factors: "For the most part, you have a fairly conservative population (in Mexico) in moral terms, religious terms and even in the recent economic policy history."

    Wals' findings are based on a national survey of 399 Mexican immigrants and a survey-embedded experiment of roughly 1,000 Mexican immigrants in Texas and Indiana.

    The participants had been in the United States an average of 17 years. The study found that about 70 percent of Mexican immigrants considered themselves in the same ideological place as they were when they were still living in Mexico.

    So what might the findings mean for the future of American politics?

    "This is enough evidence for the two parties to take a little pause and take these findings seriously, for the Democratic Party not to take the Latino vote for granted and for Republicans not to think it's a lost cause," Wals said. "If Republicans were to work on outreach strategies and intelligent ways to incorporate this population into their platforms, I definitely think they would fare a lot better than they have in the past."

    Both parties also need to make efforts to better understand the immigrant population.

    "'Latinos' is this pan-ethnic label that has been superimposed on a number of groups, (but) there is a wide range of variation and even within national origin, there is a wide variation," Wals said.

    Wals concludes that the political parties need to engage immigrants early on in the immigration process, since the population is "more up-for-grabs than generally depicted in electoral terms."

    "It's not that it's a predetermined sort of thing," Wals said. "There is room for adjustment. Those ideologies are an anchor and there's room for adjustment for some of these folks."

    Wals said he plans to help explain more about immigrant political ideologies with further research on how ideologies change and how political beliefs translate into choosing a political party, when there is no exact match. He theorizes that this may ultimately explain why center-left immigrants are less likely to be politically involved.

    "Overall, you can see people from the leftist party, the Democratic Revolution Party in Mexico, probably having more chances to become Democrats in the U.S.," he said. "At the same time, it's not a direct translation to the point that people on the left from Mexico actually have much more trouble finding themselves being interested in politics in the U.S. because they might not have a good party match."


    This is nonsense from a site with "science" in the name. You don't even get through the second paragraph without going off track.

    "Yet Latinos voted for President George W. Bush"

    He lost 60 to 40 and worse than that his first election.

    "They are socially conservative and religious,"


    So when a political scientist from Mexico writes "For the most part, you have a fairly conservative population (in Mexico) in moral terms, religious terms and even in the recent economic policy history" it is false?  Mexico is all gay-friendly liberal Episcopalians? Really?

    More on topic, virtually everyone agrees that hispanics are a normal swing constituency - and America is right of center, as all those Democrats cheering about the death of Bin Laden and the increase in domestic oil at the Democratic Convention in 2012 showed. They also made no difference in the last two presidential elections, when you factor out their votes, President Obama still won easily and his Republican opponents still had no chance at all. That is why their votes have value - they are not in the bag for a party.

    By all means attack the guy's survey if you know his methodology is bad but concluding the man doesn't know anything about his own country  or immigrants from there (yet you know more than he does on both) seems a little suspect. 
    The article is flat out incorrect. Bush did not win the Latino vote. He was crushed by 10% and 15% in his elections.

    Socially conservative in what way? Support for abortion? High rates of out of wedlock births? Support for gay marriage?

    "That is why their votes have value - they are not in the bag for a party."

    What are we looking at? The best a Republican presidential candidate has done is 40%. That was followed by a 30% amount. That is a crushing defeat.

    The idea that Hispanics are natural Republicans is a myth. I think the guy let his agenda got in the way of his research. Adding an unprecedented amount of voters that will

    You cut off your sentence but I think I know where you are going.  It may be that more conservative voting Mexicans moved to the US while more liberal ones did not in the past.  And certainly immigration reform will sway the numbers. I live in California, the home of Ronald Reagan, but since 1986, the first time illegal immigration amnesty happened (which Reagan supported), it has been solidly Democratic. And that is going to happen nationwide.

    But in fairness to the researcher, I didn't read it as him saying they were natural Republicans, he was saying they are natural conservatives.  In a two-party system they are often not the same. But America has clearly gone to the right overall, regardless of which party wins presidential elections.  He was saying that they are not to be taken for granted. I have made a similar point about scientists - science is a $120 billion constituency that neither candidate bothers with. Democrats know modern academics are voting Democratic no matter what policies (including brazenly anti-science ones) are implemented, so they don't have to address science issues, while Republicans don't bother for the same reason.  Whereas union members and teachers vote on their issues, scientists do not.  Hispanics vote on their issues and since they are the largest majority in America that is a lot of power. The worst thing they could do is make it clear they are always voting Democratic because both sides stop trying then.