Direct and Indirect Xenophobic Attacks: Unpacking Portfolios of Identity

  • Sergio Garcia-Rios
  • Francisco Pedraza
  • Bryan Wilcox-Archuleta
Original Paper


Political threats are typically conceptualized by scholars as targeting particular groups of people. We call for also conceptualizing threats as political attacks directed towards particular facets of an individual’s identity portfolio. We reason that individual political responses to political attacks depend on the strength of identity with the group under attack, just as Social Identity Theory anticipates, but we contend that responses also depends on the shared social categories across an identity portfolio. Drawing on data from 2006–2016, we compare the political assessments of various presidential candidates between Mexican heritage Latinos and other non-Mexican heritage Latinos. Given the specificity of the rhetoric towards Mexican heritage Latinos in 2016, we find evidence that Mexicans and non-Mexicans cast distinct judgments of Donald Trump. Yet, we observe no comparable distinction in prior electoral contexts, suggesting that 2016 uniquely politicized the responses among Mexican heritage Latinos.


Social Identity Theory Latino politics Race and ethnic politics Political attitudes 



We thank Matt Barreto, Vincent Hutchings, Efrén Peréz, Loren Collingwood, Chinbo Chong, Nicole Yadon, Hannah Walker, Mackenzie Israel Trummel, Hakeem Jefferson, David O. Sears, Angela X. Ocampo, and Tyler Reny for their helpful comments and insight. We also thank the helpful comments and feedback from participants at the 2016 CMPS PRIEC at UCLA, UCLA’s Political Psychology Lab, and the American Politics Working Group at the University of Michigan. Last, we are grateful to the anonymous reviewers. Replication materials are available at

Supplementary material

11109_2018_9465_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (292 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 291 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and Latina/o StudiesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and Public PolicyUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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