Partisans of Color: How Racialization and Polarization Shape Asian American and Latino Party ID


What influences partisan allegiance among Asian Americans and Latinos? These fast-growing demographics are heavily populated by immigrants who were raised outside the U.S., which limits parental socialization as the primary mechanism behind their partisan identities. We argue that contemporary Asian and Latino partisanship is shaped by two systemic forces: racialization and polarization. Asian and Latino adults regularly navigate the straits between their racial and American identities—two categories, sorted along partisan lines, that shape their sense of belonging in the U.S. We hypothesize that Asian and Latino adults generally prioritize their racial or national identity, which affects their intensity of identification as Democrats or Republicans. Leveraging major Asian and Latino surveys since 2006 (N=20,327), we uncover wide heterogeneity in identity prioritization, with 27% of Asian and Latino adults privileging their American identity over their racial one. Moreover, greater prioritization of one’s racial (versus national) identity is significantly associated with Democratic (versus Republican) allegiance (meta-analyzed d~.30). These patterns also emerge at an automatic level via Implicit Association Tests (IATs). Across two experiments (N=2,920) we then isolate one possible mechanism: Asian and Latino adults who feel their prioritized identity is overlooked signal their preferred attachment through their partisan allegiance.

  • Initial manuscript received on 03/21/2023
  • Revised manuscript and response to reviews received on 06/12/2023
  • Reviewers
    • Matt Levendusky
      • Review received on 04/09/2023
      • Compensated with $100 honorarium
    • Yamil Velez
      • Review received on 04/27/2023
      • Compensated with $100 honorarium