Turnout, Status, and Identity: Mobilizing Latinos to Vote with Group Appeals
American Political Science Review 110 (4): 615-630, 2016
51 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2016 Last revised: 7 Jun 2017
Date Written: August 2, 2016
The rise of micro-targeting in American elections raises new questions about the effects of identity-based mobilization strategies. While prior research has found either weak or null effects of identity messages targeting minority groups, we bring together theories of expressive voting with literature on racial and ethnic identification to argue that prior studies have missed a crucial moderating variable — identity strength — that varies across both individuals and communities. Identity appeals can have powerful effects on turnout, but only when they target politicized identities to which individuals hold strong prior attachments. Using two innovative GOTV field experiments that rely on publicly available data to proxy for identity strength, we show that the effects of both ethnic and national identity appeals among Latinos in California and Texas are conditional on the strength of those identities in different communities and among different Latino subgroups.
Keywords: Voting, Identity, Latinos, GOTV, Experiments
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