Expectations about ethnic solidarity notwithstanding, Latino support for Donald Trump grew between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Despite his anti-immigration positions and policies, the number of votes cast for Trump unexpectedly increased among members of the group most strongly associated with the issue of immigration. Latinos showed considerably more variance in voting behavior than what would be expected given accounts focused mainly on their ethnic solidarity. We propose a counterintuitive explanation for this trend: due to the activation of dormant political dispositions, it is the very antiimmigration attitudes characterizing Trump that account for his ascendence among Latino voters. Latinos voting for Trump did so because of his anti-immigration positions and not despite those positions. Our findings motivate a reevaluation of standard understandings of the role of minorities in American politics writ large and in American elections more specifically. Furthermore, as anti-immigration Latinos reside disproportionately more in certain swing states, we find them to be a pivotal political force in determining election outcomes, though in unexpected ways.
- Donald Trump
- Latino voters
- US elections
- activation of dormant political attitudes
- anti-immigration sentiments
- dormant political dispositions
- political minorities