Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→

Research

Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Texas is center stage for abortion politics, starring Wendy Davis as the leading lady and Rick Perry opposite her.

Wendy Davis’ protagonist role in the Texas abortion drama shot her to political fame.  Overnight she became a Democratic sensation – and on Thursday  gubernatorial candidate – as a result of her marathon filibuster to stop restrictive pro-choice legislation.

Governor Perry’s leading role is not a new one –  he’s starred in other abortion political dramas.  Back in 2011 he fast-tracked a sonogram abortion bill by designating it an emergency legislative priority.  This bill, now law, requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal-ultrasound and then wait 24 hours after the procedure to have an abortion.

It’s a movie we’ve seen many times before- entrenched partisan warfare between pro-life Republicans and pro-choice Democrats.

Or is it?

Could the abortion battle lines fall somewhere else, say along gender lines?  That possibility was inadvertently suggested a couple of days ago by none other than Governor Rick Perry’s wife, Anita Perry. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

The Lone Star state jumped into the spotlight this week – a movie-worthy filibuster by Wendy Davis, a flood of demonstrators taking to the capitol, and a ramped up war of words between Texas Republicans and Democrats.

At the root of all of this drama is a Republican sponsored abortion bill.  If passed, the bill would make Texas one of the most restrictive states by outlawing abortions beyond twenty weeks of fertilization, decreasing the number of abortion clinics from thirty-seven to five because of prohibitively costly building requirements, and tightening the guidelines for the administration of abortion drugs.

The restrictions on abortions are just the latest in a series of measures shrinking the availability of healthcare for women in Texas.  In 2011 the Texas legislature pulled funding from any clinics that had ties to abortion services or providers, even though public monies would not go to funding such procedures.  The 2011 legislature also went a step further by cutting the funding of non-abortion affiliated clinics.  These measures ended up closing 56 of the 117 women’s health clinics around the state, clinics that were the most likely to provide well-women care to low-income women.

Then, to add icing to the cake, Governor Rick Perry has rejected additional Medicaid funds under Obamacare.  In other words, the state of Texas has decreased the availability of healthcare options for women while making these fewer options more costly for lower income women.

Texas has become the latest battleground on the larger Republican War on Women.   However, because of the state’s demographics Latinas are disproportionately in the cross-hairs of this war. (more…)

This post originally appeared on MSNBC.com

Both presidential candidates have been laying it on thick with the ladies. Not that I blame them. We not only out-register and out-vote our male counterparts, we are also multi-issue voters otherwise known as swing voters.

Both candidates push a brand of female appeal, whether on the economy, health, or women’s rights. But, Republican nominee Mitt Romney is saddled by a serious problem, bad GOP wingmen.

It’s like Romney is that guy at a party who’s chatting up a lady and his wingman—let’s call him Senate candidate Richard Mourdock—saunters up and, instead of saying something smooth, offends the lady with whom Romney was hoping to close the deal.

While both presidential candidates desperately want the female vote, one of them has the natural advantage: Barack Obama. Today women are eight to 10 percentage points more likely than men to identify as Democrats. In every presidential election since 1980 a greater proportion of women than men have preferred the Democratic candidate. This phenomenon has come to be known as the “gender gap.” In 2008, the gender gap was seven percentage points, and in 1996, we saw the biggest gender gap ever: 11 points separated Bill Clinton from Bob Dole.

So the GOP hasn’t traditionally been popular with female voters. Yet, in the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans saw an increase of 16 percentage points among women for Republican candidates. (more…)