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

Adrian D. Pantoja and Gary M. Segura
Political Behavior
Vol. 25, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 265-286
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3657321
Page Count: 22
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Fear and Loathing in California: Contextual Threat and Political Sophistication among Latino Voters
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Abstract

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.

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