Political Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 265–286 | Cite as

Fear and Loathing in California: Contextual Threat and Political Sophistication Among Latino Voters

  • Adrian D. Pantoja
  • Gary M. Segura


Environments having candidates or policies deemed threatening to an individual or group have previously been found to trigger feelings of anxiety that in turn motivate people to closely monitor political affairs. Racially charged ballot propositions, and the strong feelings they evoked, made California in the mid-1990s just such an environment for Latino citizens—resulting, we believe, in higher levels of political information. Using the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute's 1997 postelection survey of Hispanic citizens, we compare levels of political knowledge between naturalized and native-born Latino citizens in California and similarly situated Latino citizens in Texas. We find that, as a result of these highly publicized and controversial initiatives, Latino immigrants in California (a) are more likely than native-born Latinos and Latinos outside California to perceive racial issues as most important, and (b) manifest higher levels of political information than their fellow native-born Latinos and Latino citizens outside of California, controlling for other well-recognized predictors of political information levels.

sophistication information threat Latinos ballot initiatives Proposition 187 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian D. Pantoja
    • 1
  • Gary M. Segura
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of IowaIowa City

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