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Turnout, Status, and Identity: Mobilizing Latinos to Vote with Group Appeals

  • ALI A. VALENZUELA (a1) and MELISSA R. MICHELSON (a2)

Abstract

The rise of micro-targeting in American elections raises new questions about the effects of identity-based mobilization strategies. In this article, we bring together theories of expressive voting with literature on racial and ethnic identification to argue that prior studies, which have found either weak or null effects of identity messages targeting minority groups, 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 as a 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.

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Corresponding author

Ali A. Valenzuela is Assistant Professor of Politics, Princeton University (aavalenz@princeton.edu).
Melissa R. Michelson is Professor of Political Science, Menlo College (melissa.michelson@menlo.edu).

References

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