Since the advent of public opinion polling, scholars have extensively documented the relationship between survey response and interviewer characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender. This paper extends this literature to the domain of language-of-interview, with a focus on Latino political opinion. We ascertain whether, and to what degree, Latinos’ reported political attitudes vary by the language they interview in. Using several political surveys, including the 1989–1990 Latino National Political Survey and the 2006 Latino National Survey, we unearth two key patterns. First, language-of-interview produces substantively important differences of opinion between English and Spanish interviewees. This pattern is not isolated to attitudes that directly or indirectly involve Latinos (e.g., immigration policy, language policy). Indeed, it emerges even in the reporting of political facts. Second, the association between Latino opinion and language-of-interview persists even after statistically controlling for, among other things, individual differences in education, national origin, citizenship status, and generational status. Together, these results suggest that a fuller understanding of the contours of Latino public opinion can benefit by acknowledging the influence of language-of-interview.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: May 8, 2013
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