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 Op-Ed was originally published in USA Today

One of the Newt Gingrich campaign’s top 10 reasons for why Latinos should support him for president is that “he shares our conservative values.” Republican reasoning often goes like this: While the majority of Latinos do not agree with the GOP on fiscal or immigration matters, at least their faith and social conservatism will make them Republican-friendly.

The GOP, however, shouldn’t hold its breath. The idea that Latinos are social conservatives akin to white evangelicals is simply off-base. A recent poll by impreMedia and Latino Decisions of 500 registered Latino voters late last year found that religious beliefs would not have an impact on the vote of 53% of Latinos, while 17% indicate that it will have a little impact.

Latinos are not significantly more conservative than non-Latinos. In fact, when it comes to gay marriage, a November Univision-Latino Decisions poll found Latinos are more progressive that non-Latinos. Though 43% of Latino voters supported gay marriage, only 35% of general voters did. (more…)

This article originally appeared in the January 30, 2012 issue of The Nation magazine with an accompanying podcast 

José Díaz-Balart, chief political analyst for Telemundo, had one important task during the September 7, 2011, Republican debate—to ask the candidates about immigration. Díaz-Balart asked his question, got his answer and was dismissed from the stage. The stereotype was fulfilled; a Latino asked one question and the one question was about immigration. With that box checked, the moderators and candidates were able to return to “non-Latino” issues.

The problem is, the issues that keep Latinos up at night—like double-digit unemployment rates, living at the poverty end of the wealth gap and having the highest high school dropout rates in the country—go well beyond immigration. Herein lies the challenge for President Obama. He must recast his connection with Latino voters beyond a narrow focus on immigration and engage Latinos as the multi-issue electorate they are.

It’s easy to see why Latinos have been typecast within the narrow frame of immigration. The vast majority are immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants. In 2008 then-candidate Barack Obama used the issue to connect with Latinos by highlighting the importance of immigration reform. This strategy was wildly successful and netted him close to 70 percent of the Latino vote. Today that strategy is counterproductive. Latino voters are keenly aware that “La Promesa de Obama”—as his campaign pledge for comprehensive immigration reform became known—was not fulfilled. And now they have other priorities: according to the latest impreMedia-Latino Decisions tracking polls, economics have eclipsed immigration as their top concern. For Latinos, the economy and the related issue of education have come to demand the same level of attention that President Obama once gave immigration. (more…)

Soccer moms were the go to gals in the 1996 Presidential election. Eight years later George W. Bush again looked to the ladies, zeroing in on security moms. In the last presidential election a hockey mom herself was put at the top of the ticket. And leading up to the 2012 election women Wal-Mart moms are the political date of choice.

The different “moms” of the last couple of elections have changed names, but they remain generally similar in terms of demographic characteristics – white, middle class, and suburban. These moms vote and they are moved by tangible day-to-day concerns related to the well-being of their family. Campaigns are smart to target these women, but would be unwise to do so to the exclusion of the growing population of mamás—Latina moms. (more…)