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Metropolitan Latino Political Behavior: Voter Turnout and Candidate Preference in Los Angeles


* Matt A. Barreto, University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Science Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697. E-mail:


Abstract: Most research on Latino voting behavior conclusively finds that as a group, Latinos vote at lower rates than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In this article, we argue that given the appropriate circumstances, Latinos should be expected to vote at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups. In particular, we think the presence of a viable Latino candidate will spur increased Latino turnout and that when Latinos candidates run for office, Latino voters will prefer the co-ethnic candidate. Analyzing precinct level returns from the Los Angeles 2001 mayoral and the 2000 presidential elections we show this may be the case. High-density Latino precincts show higher rates of turnout when Latino candidates are on the ballot, and these same precincts show heightened support for the co-ethnic candidate. In fact, for the first time ever in Los Angeles, the 2001 mayoral election witnessed Latinos voting at the highest rates of any racial or ethnic group in the city.