Immigration to the U.S.: A Problem for the Republicans or the Democrats?

54 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016

See all articles by Anna Maria Mayda

Anna Maria Mayda

Georgetown University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Giovanni Peri

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Walter Steingress

Banque de France

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2016

Abstract

This article studies the impact of immigration on the share of votes to the Republican and Democratic Party in US elections between 1994 and 2012. Our analysis is based on the variation across states and years and addresses the issue of endogeneity of immigrant flows using a set of instruments that leverage distance from country of origin and historical settlements of foreign-born to obtain a proxy for supply-driven immigration flows. Pooling all elections, immigration to the U.S. had a negative average impact on the vote share to the Republican Party. This is consistent with the typical view of political analysts in the U.S. However, this average effect – mainly detectable in House elections – has two components. When the growth of the immigrant population is due to an increase in naturalized migrants, the effect on Republican vote is clearly negative. Yet, when the share of non-citizen migrants in the population increases and their share in the state population is large – making immigration a salient policy issue – the impact on the Republican vote share is positive. These results are consistent with stronger voting preferences of naturalized immigrants for the Democratic Party relative to native voters, but also with native voters' political preferences shifting towards the Republican Party in places with high immigration of non-citizens. In our estimates, the second effect is only significant when immigrants are a large portion of the local population.

Keywords: Elections, Immigration, Republican Party, Citizenship

JEL Classification: F22, J61

Suggested Citation

Mayda, Anna Maria and Peri, Giovanni and Steingress, Walter, Immigration to the U.S.: A Problem for the Republicans or the Democrats? (June 2016). Banque de France Working Paper No. 597. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2791348 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2791348

Anna Maria Mayda

Georgetown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Giovanni Peri

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
530-752-3033 (Phone)
530-752-9382 (Fax)

Walter Steingress (Contact Author)

Banque de France ( email )

Paris
France

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