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Electoral Effects: How Campaigns Unify Latinos and Sustain Identity Politics in America

Departmental Event

Start Date: Nov 01, 2017 - 12:00pm

Location: SSCO 2069

As the largest non-white demographic in U.S. politics today, Latinos are a wildly diverse group. Research shows that the more time Latinos spend in this country, the more assimilated they become and yet, increasingly, Latinos share a common political outlook and vote in line with the interests of their ethnic identity. In this talk, I explain how political campaigns in competitive elections unify Latinos and sustain identity politics in America. Advancing a theory of electoral effects, I argue that differences in electoral competition and the population contexts in which Latinos are embedded help to explain the strength, predictors and politicization of their pan- ethnic identity attachments. Through a variety of data, I show how competitive elections where Latinos are pivotal to who wins create powerful incentives for identity entrepreneurs—candidates and other political elites—to appeal to Latinos, their interests and opposed interests with messages that reinforce their group ties. In the process, identity messages in competitive elections strengthen Latino ethnic group consciousness, shape the factors affecting its strength, and contribute to the politicization of ethnic ties in Latino voting patterns and partisan preferences.  

Ali Valenzuela is an Assistant Professor of Politics, affiliated with the Program in Latino Studies and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. His research and teaching are in American politics, with a focus on Latino public opinion and turnout, immigration politics, racial and ethnic identity in the U.S., religion in politics, elections and campaigns, and experimental methods. Professor Valenzuela’s research uses large-n surveys, geographic and electoral data, as well as field and survey experiments to investigate the causes and consequences of identity politics in the U.S., turnout in elections, and Latino support for candidates and public policies. His research has been published in APSR, PRQ, APR, and as book chapters.