Monday, December 10, 2007

Latinos and party affiliation

I hadn’t had a chance to comment on the Pew Hispanic Center study of Latinos and their party affiliation. The general media response has been focused on the shift of Latino voters away from the Republican Party and toward the Democratic Party.

I would like to highlight another shift that hasn’t been much reported, but which I think is potentially more important, that of Latinos away from both parties.

On basic party identification, some 44% of registered Latino voters now say they are Democrats, compared with 42% in 2006 and 48% in 1999. Some 19% now say they are Republicans, compared with 22% in 2006 and 19% in 1999. Some 25% now say they are independents, compared with 20% in 2006 and 23% in 1999. In short, most of the movement among Latinos toward the Democratic Party in the past year has been an increase in those who say they lean to the Democratic Party rather than an increase in those who explicitly identify themselves as Democrats (p. 2).

I take this to mean that Latino voters view the Democratic Party as preferable, but as each year passes the party is less and less likely to woo Latinos to identify explicitly with it.

I recently did some work with La Noticia, a Spanish-language newspaper here in Charlotte, and I found that as of October 2007, 45% of registered Latino voters in Mecklenburg County were Democrats, 21% were Republicans, and 33% were “unaffiliated” (numbers don’t add to 100% because of rounding).

So although this is an otherwise worthwhile study, it misses the critical question of why Latinos are moving away from both parties. Both parties and the media assume that immigration is the main issue, but my hunch is that there is something much broader at work. Exactly what I’m not sure.


Bosque 9:16 AM  

There's generally a bigger variety of political camps in LA (depending on country) ... maybe Latinos are betting on the rise of a new political party?

Both big US political parties are into elitism similar to a LA govt..."family" type political dynasties ... this is something the larger immigrant Latino group left behind in their home countries, that and perpetual poverty.

Although Latinos may identify with aspects of both parties, there is no single one encompassing the value set.

I guess that would ring true for most mainstream Americans.

Tambopaxi 11:44 AM  

Hmm.. Sounds like some fertile (voting) soil is expanding - but to what end? Is there potential here for viable third party in the future? Did the survey ask why Latinos were moving away/disaffiliating from the two traditional parties?

Greg Weeks 1:11 PM  

No, as I said, that is a missing question. I doubt this means any move toward a third party, though I admit I am not sure where it is moving.

Miguel Centellas 9:34 AM  

I think it's difficult to ask the question about Hispanic/Latino voters because we're not a homogenous demographic. And it's not just the difference between Cubans (typically more GOP) than others. I think it's that Hispanic/Latinos are starting to become more diverse in other ways. Some are middle class, some are becoming millionaires, some work in industry, others are migrant farmers, some are housewives, doctors, lawyers, teachers. Some are Catholic, Evangelical, etc. I think (or at least I hope, if integration is ever supposed to actually happen) that Hispanic/Latino voters are starting to blend into the voting landscape the way that Italian, Irish, and other immigrants did decades ago.

I remember growing up in a GM town that had a large Mexican-American population. There was often tension between established residents (who worked at GM & GM-related businesses) and recent immigrants (who didn't). Immigration isn't only a race issue, it's also a jobs issue. And Hispanic/Latino voters in my hometown were often as likely to favor immigration controls and protectionist trade policies as white voters. That's just anecdotal evidence, of course.

Greg Weeks 10:36 AM  

All that would just suggest the need for more questions, actually.

Tambopaxi 6:34 PM  


I agree with your last point. I also wonder if the out-party migration thing is perceptible in other ethnic groups as well....

Greg Weeks 9:05 AM  

My sense is that many people, regardless of race or ethnicity, are moving away from party identification, esp. the young, though I haven't looked into it in any detail. I do not know if this is more pronounced for certain groups.

Anonymous,  11:41 AM  

I agree with several of the posts arguing that the rest of population is also generally moving away from explicit party identification. However, I wonder if the ethnic/racial breakdown of the Latino community would shed further light on who is or isn't opting for overt party allegiance. Like an earlier post noted, not just Cubans or Mexicans, but also those Latinos that are (whether self-identified or not) perceived as African or Native American, Central or South American, et cetera. They may have different views on party identification than others who face less difficulty integrating within larger white U.S. society. I have noticed that views toward Latinos among non-Latinos also often skew along similar lines and affect attitudes about policies perceived as beneficial to Latinos.

Greg Weeks 4:24 PM  

Everything I've seen suggests the number of "unaffiliated" voters is increasing almost everywhere in the U.S. That does not mean, however, that such people are equally open to voting for both parties.

Greg Weeks 5:03 PM  

Oops, sorry, I thought you had written you didn't agree about decrease in party allegiance.

I would think race would break down along socio-economic lines, which in turn might show differences, esp. about attitudes on immigration.

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