Direct and Indirect Xenophobic Attacks: Unpacking Portfolios of Identity

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this paper, we focus on three social identity categories (“American”,“national origin”, and “pan-ethnic”) among Latinos. We believe our identity portfolio framework can include other distinct identities such as religion, gender, and class. However, we don’t focus on those relationships here since Latinos in the context of the 2016 elections provides an ideal test of our implication. Although our identities are “ethnic,” we don’t think this has any impact on other set of salience social identities since we argue that each of these are indeed distinct social identity categories.

  2. 2.

    The Edison Exit Poll suggested that over 30% of Latinos supported Trump. However, after the election a number of political scientists found numbers much closer to 20% across a wide number of states.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Material Fig. 0.8 shows this distribution in Supplementary Material.

  4. 4.

    Figure 2 shows the distribution for favorability.

  5. 5.

    A graphical distribution is shown in the Supplementary Material Fig. SI 0.10.

  6. 6.

    As a placebo check, we also model the probability of voting for Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton for Strong ID Mexican heritage Latinos. It could be the case that Strong ID Mexican heritage Latinos support presidential candidates differently and thus always support candidates at different rates compared to their non-Mexican counterparts. In an identical model specification, we find no support of any difference for the likelihood of voting for Clinton.

  7. 7.

    We also evaluate a model where attitudes towards Clinton serve as the dependent variable. In this analysis, we see no difference between strong ID Mexican heritage Latino and their non-Mexican counterparts.

  8. 8.

    Table SI 0.4 in Supplementary Material shows the full models for 2012, 2008 and 2006.

  9. 9.

    In analyses not included, we ran a linked fate model using the 2016 data and found consistent results with the results shown above. This suggests that linked fate, an alternative measure of identity centrality, fits our overall story that the 2016 election context was different from previous electoral contexts.

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Acknowledgements

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 https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/UX39M4.

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Correspondence to Bryan Wilcox-Archuleta.

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Author names are presented in alphabetical order, contribution was equal.

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Garcia-Rios, S., Pedraza, F. & Wilcox-Archuleta, B. Direct and Indirect Xenophobic Attacks: Unpacking Portfolios of Identity. Polit Behav 41, 633–656 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9465-5

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Keywords

  • Social Identity Theory
  • Latino politics
  • Race and ethnic politics
  • Political attitudes