An open access publication of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Fall 2012

Latino Public Opinion & Realigning the American Electorate

Gary M. Segura
View PDF

The growth and significance of the Latino electorate raises important questions about its preferences, identity, and impact. In this essay, I explore three facets of Latino public opinion and offer thoughts regarding their political impact. First, I demonstrate that Latino core beliefs about the role of government are progressive. Second, I explore the ways in which national origin, nativity, and generational status reveal important differences in how Latinos think about and participate in politics; I caution against over-interpreting the importance of these differences. Finally, I offer evidence that Latino panethnic identity is sufficiently developed to constitute a political “group.” Given that this segment in the American electorate is increasingly unified and demonstrably left of center, I suggest that the growth of the Latino population and electorate could have substantial electoral and social impact.

GARY M. SEGURA, a Fellow of the American Academy since 2010, is Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, where he is also Director of Chicano/a Studies in the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. He is a principal in the polling firm Latino Decisions and a principal investigator for the 2012 American National Election Studies. His publications include Latino Lives in America: Making It Home (2010), “The Future is Ours”: Minority Politics, Political Behavior, and the Multiracial Era of American Politics (with Shaun Bowler, 2011), and Latinos in the New Millennium: An Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences (with Luis Fraga et al., 2012).