Latino National Political Survey

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Latino National Political Survey





The Latino National Political Survey (LNPS) of 19891990 is a nationally representative dataset designed to measure the political attitudes and behaviors of the three major Latino subgroups in the United States: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans. The principal investigators of the LNPS consisted of four political scientistsRodolfo de la Garza, Angelo Falcon, F. Chris Garcia, and John A. Garcia. Temple Universitys Institute for Survey Research conducted the survey.


Data collection for the survey began in July 1989 and continued through March 1990. Latinos in the survey consist of individuals who reported having at least one parent or two grandparents (in any combination) of Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban ancestry. The LNPS dataset includes 2,817 Latino respondents (1,546 Mexicans, 589 Puerto Ricans, and 682 Cubans).

The LNPS is the primary dataset examining the political attitudes and behaviors of Latinos on a national basis. According to the LNPS codebook, the survey contains a variety of variables, including the following broad categories: family history, organizational membership, political participation, voting behavior, attitudes toward a wide variety of political issues, attitudes toward a variety of racial/ethnic/national origin groups, and typical demographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, and generational status). The dataset also includes information on the phenotype of respondents.


The LNPS dataset has been disseminated widely. Indeed, it is available to researchers at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). Social science researchers, public policy practitioners, and the mass media have used the dataset.

The LNPS has been used widely by social scientists. Thirty-one articles based on the LNPS are abstracted in ISI Web of Science and/or Sociological Abstracts. These were published in eighteen journals, including American Journal of Political Science, Applied Economics Letters, Armed Forces & Society, British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Centro Journal, Demography, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, International Migration Review, Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, Political Behavior, Population Research & Policy Review, PS: Political Science & Politics, Social Forces, Social Science Quarterly, The Sociological Quarterly, and Transforming Anthropology, and one forthcoming article in the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal. Two journalsHispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences and Social Science Quarterly stand out in terms of publishing the most articles using the LNPS. Indeed, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences devoted an entire issue (volume 18, issue 2) to work on the LNPS in 1996 (Garcia et al. 1996).

The LNPS has been applied to a broad range of social science topics, including the political attitudes of Latinos, the correlation between discrimination and phenotypes, residential patterns among Latino groups, and migration/immigration issues facing Latino groups. For example, in 2002 the Social Science Quarterly published an article titled Latino Phenotypic Discrimination Revisited: The Impact of Skin Color on Occupational Status (Espino and Franz 2002) based on the LNPS. This work showed that dark-skinned Mexicans and Cubansbut not Puerto Ricansheld less prestigious occupations than their lighter-skinned counterparts. In addition, Social Science Quarterly published another article in 2003 titled The Corrosive Effect of Acculturation: How Mexican Americans Lose Political Trust (Michelson 2003) using the LNPS. This particular article showed how political trust among Mexican Americans decreases with greater acculturation and exposure to mainstream society.

Social sciences such as economics and anthropology have also utilized the LNPS. For example, the journal Applied Economics Letters published an article in 2002 entitled Passing on Blackness: Latinos, Race, and Earnings in the USA (Darity, Hamilton, and Dietrich 2002). The article used previous findings from the LNPS to examine labor-market outcomes of people with Latino ancestry who also self-identify as black. Similarly, the anthropological journal Transforming Anthropology published an article in 2005 titled Bleach in the Rainbow: Latin Ethnicity and Preference for Whiteness (Darity, Dietrich, and Hamilton 2005). Like the economics-based study, this article examines Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans, who self-identify as black. The article cited a previous study that examined racial self-characterization categories ranging between black and white.

The LNPS has also been used in recent years by public policy agencies to better understand the political attitudes and voting behaviors of Latinos. Groups such as the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank, and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Encouragement have utilized the LNPS to better comprehend the political behaviors of this increasingly influential population group.

Furthermore, the national media have also used the LNPS. In the early 1990s the Associated Press (AP)specifically USA Today (Benedetto 1991)and El Sol del Valle (Contreras 1995) referenced the LNPS. Each of these news pieces discussed political and related attitudes and behaviors of Latinos. The APs usage of the LNPS demonstrates the wide application of this dataset.


Despite the major contributions and the wide use of the LNPS, the dataset has some limitations. First, it focuses on only three Latino subgroups (Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans). This creates a problem in generalizing the observed trends to other Latino groups such as Dominicans, Central Americans, and South Americans.

Second, as is typical of cross-sectional surveys, the information collected provides only a snapshot of individuals attitudes and behaviors at a single point in time (19891990). Thus, researchers using the LNPS cannot analyze temporal changes related to political attitudes and behaviors. Moreover, the data are now quite dated. Many important changes have taken place since 1990, especially with respect to the politics of immigration. Longitudinal datasets need to be developed in order to capture the major demographic, social, economic, and political changes taking place within the Latino population.

Third, while the LNPS has a major focus on the political attitudes and behaviors of Latinos, other important dimensions (immigration, education, health, work, and gender relations) of the Latino experience are neglected or receive little attention. A new dataset, funded by private and public agencies and research centers, will be available in the fall of 2007 through the University of Washingtons WISER Web site and the ICPSR. The new dataset, titled the Latino National Survey (LNS), focuses on the same ethnic groups as the LNPS (Mexicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans). This new survey is based on a random sample of 8,634 respondents interviewed by telephone. The sample is drawn from fifteen states and the District of Columbia. Selection of the states was based on Latino population estimates using U.S. Census data. The LNS covers broader issues compared to the LNPS, including, but not limited to, inter- and intra-group relations, transnationalism, education, and gender.

SEE ALSO Ethnicity; Latino/a Studies; Latinos; Race; Racial Classification; Survey; Surveys, Sample


Benedetto, Wendy. 1991. Three Largest Hispanic Groups Vary on Political Attitudes. USA Today, September 30.

Contreras, Raoul. 1995. Surprises in Survey of Latinos. El Sol del Valle, December 28.

Darity, William, Jr., Darrick Hamilton, and Jason Dietrich. 2002. Passing on Blackness: Latinos, Race, and Earnings in the USA. Applied Economics Letters 9 (13): 847853.

Darity, William, Jr., Darrick Hamilton, and Jason Dietrich. 2005. Bleach in the Rainbow: Latin Ethnicity and Preference for Whiteness. Transforming Anthropology 13 (2): 103109.

De la Garza, Rodolfo, Angelo Falcon, F. Chris Garcia, and John A. Garcia. 1998. Latino National Political Survey, 19891990 [Computer file]. 3rd ICPSR Version. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.

Espino, Rodolfo, and Michael M. Franz. 2002. Latino Phenotypic Discrimination Revisited: The Impact of Skin Color on Occupational Status. Social Science Quarterly 83 (2): 612623.

Garcia, F. Chris, Angelo Falcon, and Rodolfo de la Garza. 1996. Ethnicity and Politics: Evidence from the Latino National Political SurveyIntroduction. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 18 (2): 91103.

Michelson, Melissa R. 2003. The Corrosive Effect of Acculturation: How Mexican Americans Lose Political Trust. Social Science Quarterly 84 (4): 918933.

Rogelio Saenz

Misael Obregón

Beverly Pratt