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 The Nation blog. 

Primary elections are about running to the extremes; general elections are about running to the middle. In the case of Republicans that journey back to the middle is one that has to be balanced keeping their fragile base of Evangelicals, tea partiers and free-marketers content yet reaching a growing percentage of voters that no longer identify with one party. General elections in the modern times are increasingly about wooing Independent voters, and as we move into the general election, the focus will be on them. Romney, the likely nominee, will have to balance his ticket with someone that will satisfy his base and yet be able to reach Independent voters in the swing states. There are a number of likely picks but the happy middle for Romney seems to have Gingrich’s name on it.

The recent political chatter has centered on the Rand Paul vice presidential possibility. On the surface it seems plausible. First, it would at least explain why Ron Paul has been so uncharacteristically tame toward Romney. Second, Rand Paul is a conservative Southerner an identity that Romney does not connect well with. However, Rand Paul’s brand of conservatism is far too extreme for the general voter. In Paul’s senate campaign he argued that private businesses should still have the right to discriminate. One thing is to advocate for state’s rights in general terms and the other is to try to argue against a long settled constitutional and societal norm that discrimination is unacceptable. While this position did not harm his election, it may not play as well outside of his home state of Kentucky and the Deep South. (more…)

This post originally appeared on The Nation blog.

Last night Romney won an outright majority of the delegates, but Santorum decisively emerged as the moral and ideological leader of Republican primary voters. Super Tuesday’s outcome demonstrates that there is an internal tug of war between what Republicans know they should do—vote for Romney—and what they want to do—vote for Santorum.

While we may like to think of ourselves as rational decision makers, we are not—Republicans and Democrats alike. Our hearts weigh heavily into our decision-making tasks, especially politics. This is what is occurring among GOP primary voters. Rationally and strategically, Republicans know that Romney is the better candidate to challenge President Obama. More specifically, Republican primary voters indicate that the economy is the most important issue and the best preparation for being president is a background in business. And when it comes to social issues, Romney and Santorum are indistinguishable in their opposition to gay marriage, abortion and contraception provision through insurance packages. Putting all of this into the equation, it would seem Romney is the hands-down choice.

However, Romney’s stand on these issues and his professional experience are being eclipsed by more emotionally laden social and cultural rhetoric. Here is where Santorum has the advantage. Emotions are responses to things that we feel passionate about. More intense emotions such as fear and anger have a greater effect on us and in turn on our behavior. And Santorum has the edge when it comes to stirring up fear and anger, ranging from his “man on dog sex” comments to saying the separation of church and state “makes him want to vomit.” (more…)

This post originally appeared on The Nation blog.

A father recounts the story of how his fourteen year-old daughter disappeared in New York City for three days. He then describes how his business partner closed the company and brought almost all of the employees to New York to set up a command center and search through the night. The father chokes up when he remembers how his business partner said, “I don’t care how long it takes we’re going to find her.” The girl was found and the 30-second ad spot concludes with the father stating that the man who saved his daughter was Mitt Romney.

The missing girl ad is a remarkable ad, not because of the story but because of the shift in strategy by the Romney campaign. Stories that pull at the heartstrings are commonplace in political ad narratives. However, the positive and personal tone of the ad is exceptional in relation to the consistently negative and depersonalized tone Romney has struck thus far.

(more…)