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 article originally appeared as part of the University of Texas Election Series

He’s tall, dark, and handsome. It doesn’t hurt that he croons rhythm and blues and can shake it up on the dance floor. President Obama is the ultimate ladies’ man, but not because of his swagger or looks. His popularity among women boils down to politics. Part of his appeal to women is simply inherited, for decades women have preferred Democratic candidates. The other part of his female magnetism comes from his aggressively courting women this past year by highlighting women’s policy issues.

Women are pre-disposed toward Democratic candidates. In the 2008 presidential election women preferred Barack Obama by seven percent over John McCain. This preference by the part of lady voters in 2008 was only part of a larger trend known as the gender gap. Since 1980 there has been a significant difference between the percentage of women and men voting for a presidential candidates, with larger proportions of women preferring the Democratic candidate. Perhaps not surprisingly, the largest gender gap in history occurred in 1996 with President Bill Clinton capturing 11% more of the female vote.

While President Obama knows he’s got the gender gap on his side he’s not relying on this alone going into the 2012 election. Over the last six months the President together with his party’s congressional delegation has sought out policy positions that center on women and more specifically that highlight differences between Republicans and Democrats on such issues. The Democrats have done a good job of racking up the policy points and painting the GOP as not a very attractive guy to go on a date with. (more…)

In this episode we discuss the comprise President Obama came to with religious leaders regarding contraception, the role of women in the front lines and how the President is faring with progressive women.

Watch February 10, 2012 on PBS. See more from To The Contrary.

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…)