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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Changing Non-Voter: What Differentiates Non-Voters and Voters in Asian American and Latino Communities?


Asian Americans and Latinos are currently one of the fastest growing racial minority groups in the United States. However, much of this growth is due to immigration: over half of both communities are new immigrants. Thus, Asian American and Latino political incorporation is directly related to the challenges associated with immigration and in ensuring the transition from citizen adult to voter. This paper explores the effect of immigration on the Asian American and Latino political behavior. Applying DeSipio’s (1996) model of new electorates, we disaggregate immigrants from both communities into three non-voting categories: non-naturalized immigrant adults, citizen adults not registered to vote, and registered voter adults who did not vote in the 2000 or 2004 election. Using Current Population Survey (CPS) data we identify and compare the factors that differentiate these three non-voting categories from those who voted between both communities. We find that Asian American and Latino political incorporation cannot be predicted solely on the basis of individual socioeconomic factors. In addition, we must take into account influences related to immigration and political institutions such as labor unions.

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