Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 401–425 | Cite as

The Persistent Connection Between Language-of-Interview and Latino Political Opinion

  • Taeku Lee
  • Efrén O. PérezEmail author
Original Paper


Since the advent of public opinion polling, scholars have extensively documented the relationship between survey response and interviewer characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender. This paper extends this literature to the domain of language-of-interview, with a focus on Latino political opinion. We ascertain whether, and to what degree, Latinos’ reported political attitudes vary by the language they interview in. Using several political surveys, including the 1989–1990 Latino National Political Survey and the 2006 Latino National Survey, we unearth two key patterns. First, language-of-interview produces substantively important differences of opinion between English and Spanish interviewees. This pattern is not isolated to attitudes that directly or indirectly involve Latinos (e.g., immigration policy, language policy). Indeed, it emerges even in the reporting of political facts. Second, the association between Latino opinion and language-of-interview persists even after statistically controlling for, among other things, individual differences in education, national origin, citizenship status, and generational status. Together, these results suggest that a fuller understanding of the contours of Latino public opinion can benefit by acknowledging the influence of language-of-interview.


Latino public opinion Language-of-interview Survey translations Interviewer effects Language and politics 



Author order is alphabetical. The authors thank Mike Alvarez, Darren Davis, Zoltan Hajnal, Cindy Kam, Paula McClain, Natalie Masuoka, Karthick Ramakrishnan, Ricardo Ramírez, and Lynn Sanders for valuable discussion and comments on this project. The authors are also grateful to the Editors and three anonymous referees for constructive advice on this article.

Ethical standards

This study complies with relevant U.S. laws.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11109_2013_9229_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (62 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 69 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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