July 22, 2004

The 2004 National Survey Of Latinos: Politics and Civic Participation

Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation

I. Overview

Candidates, political organizations and the news media are paying greater attention to Latino voters in 2004 than in any previous election year. This reflects the closeness of many political races, the rapid growth of the Hispanic population as well as other factors. Aside from being a relatively new player on the political scene, the Latino electorate is a complex mix of native-born U.S. citizens and immigrants who have become citizens by naturalization, of individuals who trace their ancestry to different countries of origin and of people who enjoy different levels of economic well-being. In order to better understand how the Hispanic population, both voters and non-voters, see the political choices facing the nation this year, the Pew Hispanic Center and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation collaborated on an extensive survey of adult Latinos. This is the third such collaboration. The first National Survey of Latinos in 2002 also examined political views as well as a range of attitudes regarding ethnic identity and the assimilation process. The second, conducted in 2003, focused on education.

The 2004 National Survey of Latinos: Politics and Civic Participation was conducted by telephone from April 21, 2004 to June 9, 2004 among a nationally representative sample of 2,288 Latino respondents, including 1,166 registered voters. The first section of this report focuses on the views of Latino registered voters on a range of issues and concerns that are subject of debate in the current political campaign. The next section explores some of the differences in characteristics, attitudes and civic participation among Latino registered voters, those who are eligible to vote but have not registered and the large share of Latinos who are not U.S. citizens. The final section examines Hispanic views on a question that has risen to prominence each time the United States has experienced a substantial influx of immigrants: Is there a single American culture?

Methodology

The Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation2004 National Survey of Latinos: Politics and Civic Engagement was conducted by telephone between April 21 and June 9, 2004 among a nationally representative sample of 2,288 Latino adults, 18 years and older,who were selected at random. Latinos were identified based on the question “Are you, yourself, of Hispanic or Latino origin or descent, such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, Caribbean, or some other Latin background?”Representatives of the Pew Hispanic Center and The Kaiser Family Foundation worked together to develop the survey questionnaire and analyze the results. International Communications Research of Media, PA conducted the fieldwork in either English or Spanish, based on the respondent’s preference.

The sample design employed a highly stratified disproportionate RDD sample of the 48 contiguous states. The results are weighted to represent the actual distribution of adults throughout the United States.

In this summary, Latinos are classified into four groups: total Latinos;registered Latinos; Latinos who are citizens of the United States, but not registered to vote; and Latinos who are not citizens. Total Latinos includes all respondents interviewed in this survey. Registered Latinos includes all respondents who say they are citizens of the United States and are currently registered to vote. Citizens who are not registered includes all respondents who say they are citizens of the United States, but say they are not currently registered to vote or do not know if they are registered to vote. Non-citizens includes all respondents who were not born in the United States or Puerto Rico and who say they have not become citizens of the United States.

The sample size and margin of sampling error for these groups is shown in the table below:

Please note that sampling error may be larger for other subgroups and sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion poll.

Copies of this summary of findings (#7129) or topline finding from the survey (#7128) are available online at www.kff.org and www.pewhispanic.org.