How Immigration Enforcement Shapes Latinx Candidates Preferences

Some research suggests the threat posed by immigration enforcement compels Latinxs to support Democratic politicians. Other studies suggest Latinxs support Democrats over immigration-irrelevant factors. We present a Dynamic Threat Ownership Theory to illustrate the temporal conditions that compel Latinxs threatened by immigration enforcement to support national Democratic politicians. We find Latinxs threatened by immigration enforcement are not more inclined to support national Democratic politicians despite restrictionist Republican tendencies until Democratic politicians make perceptibly credible commitments to reduce or not exacerbate the threat of deportation. We also demonstrate the threat of immigration enforcement motivates partisan defection among Latinx Republicans despite the Republican Party’s restrictionism. We supplement these findings with plausibly causal evidence showing Democratic policy commitments providing deportation relief increases positive incumbent evaluations. We provide a general theoretical framework for understanding when political threats inform the candidate evaluations of marginalized groups.

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