Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rachel May, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Heide Castaneda, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Tauber, Ph.D.


Latinidad, group identity, voting behavior, Latino politics, Latino Studies


This thesis explores the impact of Latinidad in Latino political participation, especially in regard to voting behavior. Although Latinos often have been portrayed as a decisive electoral group, the reality is they have not fulfilled the expectations imposed upon them. Therefore, I argue Latinos with different levels of group consciousness will engage differently in politics, which affects the voting statistics of the ethnicity in Censuses, reports and surveys. The use of pan-ethnic terms and the constant stereotypes of Latinos all being “the same,” has caused separation rather than cohesiveness within the minority group, which has resulted in low political engagement. I propose that those Latino immigrants and their descendants who do not have a strong attachment to the pan-ethnicity will behave differently than those who identify themselves in pan-ethnic terms.

Consequently, I have come to wonder how Latinidad impacts those who are not part of the main Latino subgroups —Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans— and have been denominated the “other Latinos” when engaging in politics? South Americans, Central Americans, and Caribbean immigrants have been smashed into a group where they do not occupy a significant place. I suggest that differences in country of origin will have an impact on how Latin American immigrants will participate in American politics. To test my hypothesis, I have made a secondary analysis of existent literature. This analysis includes crosstabulations of data obtained from the 2012 National Survey of Latinos, conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Through the analysis of the data and the existent literature, I have concluded that the pan-ethnic terms are not strongly entrenched in Latino’s regular use of identity. Respondents mostly said to not have a preference for either term, still their vote intention was high. Differences are noticeable among Latinos/Hispanics that have different ancestries, however, these are sometimes stabilized by citizenship. The data proved that the identity categories used for surveys directed at Latinos/Hispanics are not specific enough, given that a considerable percentage of participants were confused about how to classify themselves, which altered the results. This current study will contribute to the work of Latino studies, that for more than 50 years have tried to get to know those who make up the Latino community, by approaching identity and Latino politics from a different perspective. A perspective where those called Latinos/Hispanics can identify themselves instead of being randomly categorized.