Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto


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→


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.

Confidence in Congress fell to the lowest on record this summer, ten percent.  Less than a decade ago about half of Americans approved of Congress, but today approval is barely in the teens.

The general American public disapproves of Congress, with little distinction across party lines.  But is this disapproval unfair, because those of us who don’t hold elected office just don’t understand how hard governing is?

Well, according to governors, a group that knows a thing or two about elected office, Congress does provide cause for disapproval.  Last week at the National Governor’s Association meeting governors, in particular Republican governors, stated their disapproval of the Republican’s threat to shut down the government.

And if anyone has a right to be frustrated with Congress it’s governors.  Congress is on track for setting a record for the fewest number of bills passed.  Our pressing political problems go unaddressed because partisan gridlock has paralyzed the Senate and House of Representatives.  As such, the heavy lifting of governing falls to the local level.  Let’s take immigration for example.  The lack of federal level action has meant that states and cities have had to develop their own responses to the issue of immigration – whether it’s Arizona’s SB1070 or Maryland’s tuition assistance to undocumented students.

Day in and day out governors face the constituents who elected them and could also fire them.  Members of Congress however are spending at least half of their time in the Beltway.  Such geographical distance removes congressional leaders from real governing.  It’s one thing to grandstand on the floor of the Senate, it’s another to figure out how to keep roads repaired, universities funded, and sick children cared for. (more…)

Mitt:  it was a long hard slog but we did it, now comes the run to the middle.  You’ve got a lot of ground to make up after out-righting the right but no steeper will your climb be than with the Latino electorate.  Moving forward here’s our three-pronged Latino action plan – hold the line with the Cuban vote, throw in the towel with the Latino Democratic vote, and fire up the Republican and Republican leaning Mexican voters in the West as if you’re life depended on it because well, politically it does.

Operation Hold the Line – Cubans in Florida

You’ve already got the Cuban love, now just keeping stoking that fire of good feeling.  We mopped the floor with Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul in the January primary.   However, don’t loose sight of the fact that the Latino component of this win was highly concentrated among Cuban immigrants in Miami-Dade County.  Any hopes that we can get the Puerto Rican vote in the Central part of the state is pure Disney World fantasy.

So we don’t need to worry about revving up the older Cuban voters that fled the Castro regime—and yes, I won’t forget to send Ozzie that thank you note.  What does worry me is the American-born Cuban voters. I’m especially worried about all of those Cuban jovencitos that fell under Barack Obama’s spell in 2008.  We have a shot with them, but we can’t keep coming back to our Fidel line.  To keep them in the Republican fold and most importantly out to the polls we’ve got to relate to them on a policy level.  I’ll be working on that end, but in the meantime don’t let up on the Rubio flirtation!

Operation Throw in the Towel – Latino Democrats

You are not George W. Bush and I am not Karl Rove.  We’ve got to face the fact that we don’t have a well-developed strategy or history of courting crossover votes from Latino Democrats.  Our primary election strategy of cozying up to the Tea Party anti-immigrant blitz closed off any chance of gaining a second look from Latino Democrats.  And yes, even the very socially conservative ones.  Regrettably that darned issue of immigration has remained number one or two among Latino Democrats.  (more…)

Mitt Romney has been making moves to soften his anti-immigrant tone and move himself toward the middle for the general election. However, during the primary he went so far to the right on the issue of immigration that he will not be able to pivot. Any gestures to do so are too little too late.