CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF DEMOCRACY, UC IRVINE 
RESEARCH PAPERS

Why Latinos Supported Proposition 187
Testing the Economic Threat and Cultural Identity Hypotheses

Lina Yvette Newton
University of California, Irvine

Copyright 1998, Lina Yvette Newton


Abstract

Objective. This study explores factors that can either undermine or bolster political solidarity based on a shared "Latino" group identity by testing them within the context of Proposition 187. Methods. This research analyzes data from Field Polls conducted in October 1994, shortly before the general election where Proposition 187 appeared. Results. A set of multivariate analyses reveals that Latino support for 187 did not come from Latinos most likely to be economically threatened by immigration. Instead, Latinos who are non-citizens and who use Spanish as a primary language overwhelmingly opposed Proposition 187 because these are the Latinos who are most likely to face discrimination with the passage of the measure. Latinos who speak English and are citizens may have perceived no threat from 187, explaining why the supported the measure. The findings for Anglos corroborate other research showing that support for Proposition 187 was ideologically driven. Conclusion. The findings refine our understanding of the Latino population by 1) demonstrating that the group is not monolithic, and 2) identifying how issues of assimilation and cultural identity function to forge political divisions among Latinos.


During times of economic stagnation and periods of social malaise, the public may voice anti-immigrant sentiment, and demand that the government stop the entry of immigrants into the U.S. (Portes and Bach, 1985). Historically, California has often led the nation in public opinion trends targeting immigrant groups as the source of social ills. It is not surprising then, that during the economic recession of the early 1990s, an anti-immigration initiative appeared on the California ballot. Once again, the public and political leaders debated the economic effects of immigration on the state-a debate which resounded nationally.

While the American public holds a variety of opinions about the meaning of immigration and the effects of immigration policy, the issue is particularly salient for the Latino population.1 Immigration from Latin America is contributing to the growth of the national Latino population, soon to be the largest minority group in the United States. The relationship between U.S. Latinos and immigrants of Latin American origin will have important consequences for the political power of this minority group, particularly if Latinos can translate their numbers into electoral power. Part of the challenge, clearly, is forming a political identity for what is in fact an ethnically heterogeneous population. If, however, the experience of California's Latino voters on Proposition 187 is indicative of the future, immigration policy may forge divisions within the Latino electorate. 

This paper is a case study in Latino public opinion; it tests the role of socioeconomic status, political ideology and ethnic group identity to determine how Latinos approached Proposition 187. Using an initiative which held particular importance for California's Latinos, it seeks to locate those characteristics which may unify Latinos politically. Alternately, by testing public opinion on an historically divisive issue-the relationship between immigrant and citizen Latinos-the study also tries to locate political divisions within this population. Finally, insofar as Latinos took pro or anti 187 stances when surveyed, the study asks whether the sources of division within this ethnic group mirrored those of Anglos. The goal is to ascertain whether Latinos made decisions on Proposition 187 based on factors particular to Latinos, or whether their stance on the initiative is attributable to characteristics shared among other Californians.

Proposition 187

On November 8, 1994 a majority of Californians voted in favor of the anti-immigrant initiative numbered 187 and entitled "Save Our State." Articles in the Los Angeles Times preceding the election quoted a public anxious to vote in favor of the initiative in order to "send a message that something has to be done about illegal immigration" (Los Angeles Times, 9/19/94). In a poll taken in October 1994, Californians cited illegal immigration as the state's most pressing issue: following close behind crime and unemployment and ranking far higher than education and the economy (Los Angeles Times, 10/15/94). Support for Proposition 187 was strong with October 1994 public opinion polls in the Los Angeles Times showing 59 percent support among likely voters and 61 percent support among registered voters. Thirty-seven percent of respondents claimed their reason for voting in 1994 General Election was to cast their vote on Proposition 187.

What is surprising, however, is the attraction of the immigration initiative for a significant segment of California's Latino voters. Their support might have made sense had the initiative called for tightening federal control over the border, or increasing employer sanctions. After all, in Latino Voices, a compilation of Latino National Political Survey data revealing panethnic perspectives on a variety of political issues, 75.2% of Mexican Americans interviewed agreed that there were "too many immigrants." In fact, the percentage of Mexican Americans agreeing that there were too many immigrants was higher than that of Anglos (73.8% ) (de la Garza et. al.,1992: 101).2 Such findings in turn suggest support among Mexican Americans for federal immigration restriction policies.

However, 187 did not restrict immigration through the usual controls. Instead the measures included were supposed to act as disincentive to illegals consuming services paid for by California's taxpayers. The proposition restricted dispensation of public services, including health care and public education, to illegal aliens. Furthermore, the measure required service providers, such as teachers and medical personnel to report individuals suspected of residing illegally in the U.S.

An initiative that not only restricted services but that also called upon doctors, officials, teachers and others supplying services to turn in anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, had the potential to ignite general suspicion of and discrimination against Latinos. Since the target of public concern is the influx of Mexican illegal aliens, and since the measure encouraged public servants to police suspected illegal immigrants, the potential for discrimination against Latino citizens and legal permanent residents should have served as a forceful deterrent to significant Latino support of such legislation. Since it did not, the following question drove this study in Latino public opinion: why did some of California's Latinos favor Proposition 187?

Potential Explanations 

Economic Self-Interest and the Anti-Immigrant Stance

In the case of Proposition 187, some factor seemed to override the ethnic solidarity of California's primarily Mexican-American Latinos, and one prominent explanation was economic. The L.A Times articles provided anecdotal evidence of economic fears in the public at large, and major U.S. immigration restriction legislation has followed periods of high unemployment and economic slumps. Therefore, it made sense to look at forces of economic self-interest versus ethnic community identity to explain why some of California's Latinos were favoring this highly publicized state referendum.

One historical study of the relationship between immigration policy and the evolution of Chicano political identity and organization details a history of tenuous relations with Mexican immigrants (Gutiérrez, 1995). Gutiérrez provides evidence of Southwestern Latino political organizations fighting immigration in order to preserve wage levels, their own jobs, and their settlements. Tracing the debate over the complex relationship between Mexican-Americans and immigrant labor through the 1970s (when Latino political groups took less restrictionist stances), he concludes that immigration will remain a controversial topic for Southwestern Latinos (Gutiérrez, 1995: 203-204). 

Research explaining differences between Chicanos and undocumented Mexicans in a community in south Texas (Rodriguez and Nuñez , 1986) suggested ways in which one might tap into the social class and economic standing to explain support for anti-immigrant legislation among Mexican-Americans. Rodriguez and Nuñez found that individuals who voiced support for stronger controls on immigration and limiting access to public services for undocumented immigrants were lower-class Chicanos. In the field study, Chicano perceptions included: 1) their superiority over illegal immigrants, 2) that illegal immigrants undercut wages, and 3) that illegal immigrants receive preferential treatment in dispensation of government services.

Those Chicanos who competed with illegals for housing, who received low wages and who lacked job security were those who perceived a threat from continued flow of illegal immigrants. The Rodriguez-Nuñez study also found that perceptions of illegals changed among community members with higher socio-economic status: better educated, middle-class Chicano professionals and business owners not only perceived no job threat, but were often most sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants and were among those who campaigned against human rights abuses and provided immigration counsel to illegals. 

While the research of Gutiérrez and Rodriguez and Nuñez produce insights into the complex role of Mexican immigration in Southwestern Latino identity and politics, neither can account for the manifestation of these micro-level attitudes in immigration restriction policy. This was not the goal of Rodriguez and Nuñez's field research, and Gutiérrez's study dealt with activists and political elite, revealing a disjuncture between micro-level interactions between Mexican immigrants and Chicanos, and the translation of prejudices into social legislation. While Latinos in the border states of the U.S. may have an ambivalent relationship with recent immigrants from "the other side," we have not seen a test case of individual-level opinions on immigration translating into initiative outcomes.

Ideology and Immigration Stance 

Political scientists studying the ideological orientations of Latinos have focused on minority group membership and its relationship to ideological leaning and issue opinions (Brischetto and de la Garza, 1983; Cain, Kieweit and Uhlaner, 1991; de la Garza et. al., 1992; Welch and Sigelman, 1993). This research confirmed that the Mexican-American and Puerto Rican electorate tends to vote Democratic and tends to identify as ideologically liberal, and that political partisanship and ideology is shaped by membership in the minority group.

Prior research suggests that partisanship was a strong determinant of voter choice on Proposition 187 (Cain and MacDonald, 1996; Salvanto, 1997). Recall that in the 1994 race for Governor, Republican candidate Pete Wilson took a pro-187 stance, arguing that the proposed initiative would help save the state millions in revenue. Democratic challenger Kathleen Brown took the anti-187 stance, thus creating party cues for voters to decide their position on the initiative. Cain and MacDonald's research suggests difficulties in disentangling the individual effects of partisanship and ethnic group membership of a minority population which overwhelmingly votes Democratic. This examination of Proposition 187 tests whether or not partisanship or minority group membership was a stronger indicator of issue cleavage among Latinos.

Ethnic/ Racial Voting Explanations 

Other studies of Latino electoral politics focus on variations in issue opinions among Latinos of the largest three groups: Mexicans, Cubans and Puerto Ricans. Using data drawn from the Latino National Political Survey, Latino Voices documents the perspectives of the three main groups on prevalent issues in American politics (de la Garza et al.,1992). In the segment measuring attitudes of Latinos on immigration, the LNPS findings revealed that the three groups differed in their perceptions of how the U.S. society treats immigrants.

Tolbert and Hero (1996) examine the county-level racial composition of the 1994 California electorate to determine electoral opinion on 187 according to the demographic composition of the 58 California counties participating in the initiative. Their findings confirm the contextual effects of racial diversity on the vote for 187. They argue that "bifurcated counties with above average Latino populations and an electorally dominant white population" can account for support for 187 in the same way that homogenous counties with small numbers of minorities ensured support for the initiative (Tolbert and Hero, 1996: 816). Nonetheless, the Tolbert and Hero social context explanation still cannot explain why almost one-fourth of people who identified ethnically as "Latino" supported 187 in November, while the other 77 per cent did not.

Hypotheses

The research above generated the following four hypotheses to explain the division in Latino positions on Proposition 187.

1) Economic Self-interest: Latinos who are legal residents but who also fall on the lower ends of scales measuring education, income, and own/ rent status will support Proposition 187. The assumption is that Latinos who favored Proposition 187 did so because they perceived economic threat from the presence of illegal immigrants in the state, reflecting the attitudes of the lower-class Chicano community Rodriguez and Nuñez observed in Texas. Latinos who face competition from illegal immigrants are more likely to favor measures which bar illegals from accessing services they feel are theirs.

There exists, however, another self-interest hypothesis which contradicts the first, and rests on the assumption that the provisions of Proposition 187 were particularly harmful even to Latinos with U.S. citizenship or other legal status. This possibility yields the second hypothesis.

(2) Discriminatory Self-Interest: Latinos who fall on the lower scales of socioeconomic status are those most likely to face discrimination based on the provisions of 187 and will oppose Prop 187 accordingly. Opposition to 187 from low SES Latinos could also represent self-interest: a vote against potential discrimination in jobs and in public services inherent to the proposed law. Recall that Prop 187 stipulated citizen policing of "suspected" illegal immigrants, thus threatening all Latinos with discrimination on the basis of appearance or Spanish surname. It is possible that Latinos of lower socioeconomic status were pressured to consider discrimination as well as competition from illegal immigrants.

3) Ideology: Opposition to Proposition 187 should reflect a liberal orientation and Democratic party affiliation for both Anglos and Latinos. Existing research suggests that Latinos (with the exception of Cuban - Americans) are strongly affiliated with the Democratic party and that the pro or anti 187 stance is strongly attributable to the party position of each of the gubernatorial candidates.

4) Ethnic identity: Identifying as a Latino alone should account for opposition to 187. Since the provisions of the proposed policy might induce discrimination against Latinos, we should find evidence of a Latino political group identity manifesting itself as opposition to 187. This expectation stems from Padilla's 1984 definition of Latino ethnicityas being situationally and politically dependent.Furthermore, prior research (Cain and MacDonald, 1996; Welch and Sigelman, 1993; Cain and Kieweit, 1984) has shown that ethnic identity alone will function as a vote determinant even when we account for partisanship. 

Data Sources

A poll conducted by the California Field Institute between October 21-30, 1994 is the main data source to test the above hypotheses. The total number of respondents is 1404, 328 of whom are Latinos. Note that "Latino" refers specifically to those people who classified themselves according to the California Field Poll question "Do you happen to be of Hispanic, Spanish or Mexican descent?".3 The data file also includes 713 non-Hispanic whites (referred to in the analysis by the term "Anglos"). Incorporating the Anglo group enables an interesting contrast between their preferences and those of Latinos on anti-immigrant legislation, and further highlights whether or not a specifically Latino ethnic identity or ethnic group solidarity actually played a roll in forming opinions on the Proposition. Neither African-Americans nor Asian-Americans appear in the analysis because their numbers in these polls were insufficient for detailed analysis.

Explaining Attitudes toward Proposition 187

Socioeconomic Status (SES). The inquiry now shifts to establish what effect SES had in determining both the Latino and Anglo positions on Proposition 187. The economic self-interest hypothesis expects that Latinos favoring of 187 should hold lower income and education and largely consist of renters. Conversely, the discriminatory self-interest hypothesis expects low SES Latinos to oppose 187 precisely because their SES position renders them indistinguishable from illegal immigrants in the eyes of the vigilant general public. In order to test both hypotheses, respondents' income level, whether the respondent owns or rents property, and respondent's level of education are each employed as measures of socioeconomic status for both sample groups..4

Political Ideology. The third hypothesis expects the vote against Proposition 187 to reflect a liberal orientation and Democratic party affiliation for both Anglos and Latinos. In this analysis, the ideological variable is a five-point scale combining the respondents' left-right affiliation with a party identification variable. The combination of both variables yields more information about the political leanings of the majority of people who ranked themselves as "middle-of-the-road" ideologically, but who identified with either the democrats or republicans when asked to name their party identification.

Citizenship Status: In its sampling of the Latino population, the Field Poll includes 218 citizens and 110 non-citizens, thus representing both the large citizen and resident immigrant Latino population.5 Here citizenship is a dummy variable that identifies individual legal status, (and eligibility to vote) but does not distinguish between naturalized and native born citizens.

Language: This is a dummy variable (relevant only to the Latino sample) indicating whether or not the Field Institute conducted a respondent's questioning in Spanish. This variable is included to further bolster the ethnic division being tested; reliance on Spanish in the context of a political survey indicates the presence of a subgroup of Latinos who use Spanish as their primary language. In the Latino sample, 103 cases participated in the survey in Spanish.

Dependent Variable: Finally, the dependent variable used in the analysis is taken from a question which presented a brief description of Proposition 187, and asked hypothetically if the election were being held that day would the respondent vote "yes" or "no" on the initiative.6

Multivariate Analyses

Since SES, ideology and ethnicity operate in conjunction to form individual and group opinions, a multivariate model would allow for an examination of the interplay of variables. For both populations, those who remained "undecided" in response to the 187 question were coded as missing data.7 The logistic regression values for Latinos are based on a final population of 279. The final logistic analysis of Anglos includes 626 cases. The independent variables included for Latinos are income level, education level, own/ rent, language, and ideology. The independent variables were the same for Anglos, with the exception of citizenship and language, which did not pertain to this group. The results for the multivariate logistic equations appear in Table 1. The equations for both Latinos and Anglos predict support for Prop 187.

Results for Latinos

Beginning with the socioeconomic status indicators: a Latino respondent's income produced virtually no impact on their likelihood of supporting Proposition 187. While the coefficient for education shows that a rise in education generates an increased chance support for the initiative, like income, the education variable is not statistically significant. Likewise, the coefficient measuring home ownership had no significant effect on the likelihood that a Latino respondent would favor 187.

The composite variable measuring political ideology and partisanship (with the lowest score being those Latinos who identify as both conservative and Republican, and the highest being those with combined liberal and Democratic affiliation) yielded a beta of -.102, showing atendency for more ideologically liberal Latinos not to support the measure. However, this coefficient is also insignificant at the .05 level. 

The two variables in this model that did work to predict where Latinos fell on the initiative were those specific to this group: Citizenship and Spanish Language. The variable measuring citizenship yielded a beta of 1.63 significant at the .05 level, showing that Latinos who were also citizens were more likely to favor Prop 187, and that citizenship increased likelihood of support by a factor of 5.09. The variable identifying those respondents who completed the Field survey in Spanish appeared a strong predictor of likelihood of support for 187; the beta of -1.61 (significant at the .05 level) shows a decrease in the likelihood of support for 187 among Spanish-speaking Latinos. According to this model, speaking Spanish decreased the odds of Latino support for Proposition 187 by a factor of .12.8


TABLE 1: Multivaritate Logistic Regressions for Latinos and Anglos Predicting Support for Prop 187
LATINOS(1)a
ANGLOS(1)b
Coefficient
S.E.
Exp(B)c
Coefficient
S.E.
Exp(B)
Income Level
.002
.008
1.00
.002
.004
1.00
Years of Education
.040
.063
1.04
?.147***
.029
.864
Homeownership
.298
.325
1.35
?.088
.198
.916
Ideology/ Party ID
?.102
.083
.903
?.119**
.042
.888
Citizen
1.63*
.661
5.09
---
---
---
Spanish Language
?1.61*
.753
.120
---
---
---
Constant
?.957 
1.55
3.09***
.559
(N=279)
(N=626)

Source: California Field Institute
a. Overall prediction rate of logistic Model I for Latinos: 69.53; Model Chi-Square= 64.59 (p<.0001)
b. Prediction rate of logistic equation for Anglos: 61.02%; Model Chi-Square= 37.04 (p<.0001)
c. Factor by which likelihood of support for Prop 187 will change with an increase of 1 unit in the corresponding independent variable.
***p<.0001
**p<.001
*p<.05


Results for Anglos

Table 1 also shows the logistic model results for Anglos; as was the case for Latinos, income and home ownership contributed little towards predicting support for the proposition. However, the coefficient for education (-1.47, significant at the .0001 level), shows a decrease in the likelihood of support for Proposition 187 as the respondents' level of education rises. A single unit increase in a respondent's level of education decreases the likelihood of support for the measure by a factor of .86. 

The ideological scale is also a strong indicator of likely support for Proposition 187 among Anglos. The coefficient -.119 (p<.001) illustrates how Anglos who are ideologically more liberal and have Democratic party affiliation are less inclined to support 187. Here, the odds of respondent support decrease by a factor of .89 the higher they rank in liberal ideology and party affiliation.9

Interpretation of Findings 

Citizenship and Language: Identity and Opinion Cleavages

The multivariate analysis reveals a significant political cleavage within the Latino community, delineated by two indicators of ethnic identity: language and citizenship. The significance of both variables suggests that the divergence in positions on 187 may mark differences in levels of assimilation within the Latino group. Latinos who rely on Spanish as a primary language have probably resided in the United States a shorter length of time, or may reside in primarily Hispanic and/or immigrant enclaves. Most importantly, the findings reveal that Spanish language is a cultural identifier which sets immigrant Latinos apart from English-speaking Latinos, and can account for their resistance to Proposition 187. David E. Lopez (1997), who has examined language shift and assimilation patterns among California's immigrants, offers insight into the relationship between language and identity among Spanish-reliant Latinos:

From Santa Barbara to San Diego, those who work in public places (busboys, laborers, gardeners) and in highly subservient roles (nursemaids and housecleaners) are overwhelmingly immigrant Latin Americans, who naturally speak their mother tongue among themselves. Since Spanish is used in public disproportionately by the poorer sectors of the Latino population (better-off Latinos tend to speak English), it also reinforces the stereotype that equates Latinos with poverty and immigration.

Latinos who are Spanish-speakers and non-citizens are more likely than their English-speaking, citizen counterparts to oppose 187 because immigrant Latinos are those most likely, as Lopez suggests, to experience the discrimination sanctioned within the provisions of 187. While the Field Poll did not include a question distinguishing naturalized from native-born citizens, it is reasonable to assume that the relationship between citizenship and likelihood of support for 187 signifies that Latinos who perceived no threat from the passage of Proposition 187 had no qualms about supporting it.

Conclusion

Previous research suggests that perceived economic threat drives Latino opinions on immigration issues (Gutiérrez, 1995; Rodriguez and Nuñez, 1985). To the contrary, this analysis found that variables used to indicate cultural identity (citizenship status and language) overshadowed class and political ideology and partisanship in explaining issue positions for Latinos. 

This inquiry tested three possible explanations for this inconsistency. Hypothesis 2 expected low SES Latinos who also rely on Spanish as their primary language to be most susceptible to discrimination sanctioned by the proposed law; however, since SES indicators did not predict likelihood of support for 187, this explanation does not hold. Hypothesis 3 expected that ideology and partisanship would explain people's positions on 187. The multivariate analysis, however, showed that ideology determined Anglos' position on the initiative, but not that of Latinos. This supports the findings of Cain and MacDonald (1996) which show that partisanship was the key determinant of Anglo positions on 187, and are more broadly consistent with research on the Official English movement, which found ideological conservativism and Republican partisanship to be strong predictors of pro-English only stances among non-Hispanic whites (Tatalovich, 1995; Citrin, Reingold, Walters and Green, 1990). 

The multivariate model for Latinos supports Hypothesis 4, which stated that ethnic identity should account for opposition to 187 among Latinos. Two thirds of Latinos opposed 187, with opposition focused among Spanish-speakers. In this case, Spanish-language and non-citizen status are markers which distinguish them from Anglos, but also separate them from English-speaking Latinos. More concretely, Spanish-speaking, non-citizen Latinos were most likely to face discrimination under a law calling for civilian policing of illegal immigrants.

These findings are important for several reasons. First, we see evidence that the Latino population in California is not monolithic, and the divergence in views on immigration legislation may be located in differences of assimilation within the Latino group. Second, the strong role that cultural identity played in this situation suggest an important alternative to SES models of voting; a group benefits model would better explain how Latinos who see themselves as "outsiders" and feel targeted by Proposition 187 would voice strong resistance to it. The findings here suggest that self-interest explanations are not limited to individual, economic considerations, but that group interests may prove critical determinants of opinion in certain situations. In this respect, the findings here corroborate those of other researchers (Cain and MacDonald, 1996; Cain, Kieweit and Uhlaner, 1991; Cain and Kieweit, 1984; Padilla, 1984) who have argued that ethnic group identity is key to understanding political behavior among Latinos. Accordingly, the findings are not limited to the Latino community; they support research demonstrating the limits of socioeconomic and partisanship variables in determining political positions among African Americans (Tate, 1991). Finally, the findings here fall in line with the research of others (Sears and Citrin, 1982) who have emphasized the power of ethnic and racial identity in predicting population stances on legislation impacting minority groups. We can therefore expect future policy proposals targeting ethnic and racial minorities to produce specific considerations for members of these groups. 


Endnotes

The author wishes to thank Bernard Grofman, Helen Ingram, Russell J. Dalton and Carole J. Uhlaner for their assistance and support on this project. Thanks as well to Thomas Longoria, Jr. for his helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.

1."Latino" in this paper refers to a population that is largely Mexican in origin. According to the 1990 California Census count, 80 percent of those who classify themselves as Hispanic are specifically of Mexican descent. The next two largest Hispanic-origin groups are Salvadorans and Guatemalans (comprising 4 and 2 percent of California's Hispanic population, respectively).

2. This percentage reflects the sum of Mexicans and the sum of Anglos who "Strongly agree" and "Agree" with the survey statement "There are too many immigrants."

3. Of the 328 Latinos sampled, 153 were registered to vote at the time of the survey. All 713 Anglos included in the survey, on the other hand, were registered to vote. Running the models detailed in Tables 1 and 2 yielded the same results we see for the importance of language (with reduced statistical significance as the final model was based on a total number of 97 cases, though based on a final population of 10 Spanish-speakers). The inclusion of opinions of both Latino citizens (who may vote) and non-citizens is a more representative illustration of the inter-ethnic relations being tested here as non-citizen legal immigrants who were ineligible to vote clearly had a stake in whether or not the proposition passed. If citizen Latinos took a different stance than non-citizens, we would be able to generate some conclusions about which Latinos assisted in the passage of the initiative on election day.

4. Unfortunately, no questions revealing respondent occupation were included in the polls, therefore education, income and own/rent status are used in conjunction to assess whether individuals fall into a stratum in which they might perceive economic threat.

5. The term "non-citizens" refers to immigrants of Latin American origin (largely Mexican in the California context) holding legal permanent resident status who have either chosen not to naturalize or had not, as of October 1994 (when the survey was conducted) met the requirements for naturalization. While it is possible that non-citizens included in the survey analysis may include illegal immigrants, this is unlikely given the high level of residential concentration of the estimated illegal population in California.

6. The following is the exact "Aided" question as appeared on the October Field Poll:

(As you know) Proposition 187 makes illegal aliens not eligible for public social services, public health care services unless emergencies under federal law, and attendance at public schools. It requires state and local agencies to report suspected illegal aliens. Fiscal impact: annual state and local savings of roughly 200 million dollars, offset by administration costs of tens of millions and potentially more than 100 million dollars in the first year. Places at possible risk billions of dollars in federal funding for California.

7. The reasons leading to this decision are twofold. First, the Field survey, (conducted within two weeks of election day) showed only 6 percent of respondents claimed to be undecided about their vote on the initiative. Rather than allow the percentage of undecided voters to skew the regression artificially in favor of or against the initiative, I made the decision to mark these people as missing data and report readings based on solid affirmative or negative choices.

Second, given the amount of print and television media coverage of Proposition 187 in the state as well as the nation, it is not implausible that people who were undecided remained so until election day. As it turned out, 3.5 percent of votes were not cast in the 187 race, suggesting that around 3% of voters made their decision on or just before election day. To assume a yes or no vote for would have been speculative, thus, "undecided" cases are coded as missing data. 

8. For Latinos, the correlation between education and income was .49, the correlation between Spanish language and income is -.34 (Spanish speakers also have lower incomes), and the correlation between Spanish language and level of education is -.39 (Spanish speakers tend to have lower levels of education). Given the substantial multicollinearity present among these key independent variables used in the model, the multivariate model appearing in Table 1 is the best at predicting where Latinos fell on 187, and is theoretically well-situated. I did run exploratory models to test the robustness of the findings in Table 1 by adding an interactive term for citizenship and Spanish language in an alternate model, as well as constructing three additional models to alleviate collinearity between education, income and Spanish language. Each of these models revealed little change from the original findings shown in Table 1: language and citizenship retained their individual power as the most significant determinants of Latino positions on Proposition 187 , while SES indicators played no role at all.

9. Alternate models for Anglos were also constructed to account for collinearity between education and income by combining the each scale into a 12 point composite scale. Ideology, however, retained its predictive power with a beta of -.118 (p<.05) showing Anglo respondents with Democratic party identification and liberal attitudes being less likely to support Proposition 187 (odds of support decrease by a factor of .89 with a single unit increase on the ideology/ party identification scale). The level of significance for Anglo education level and Ideology/Party ID betas was actually higher in the original model. 


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