The Pull of the Parties for Immigrants in the United States



Immigrants in the United States frequently express a desire to return to their country of birth, an attitude that could undermine political acculturation and democratic inclusion in the American context. This mindset has been labeled an “ideology of return.” Drawing from original surveys of the Mexican-born population conducted during the 2006 and 2008 elections, we show that partisan competition during major national campaigns has the potential to pull immigrants towards U.S. civic life and make the prospect of remaining in the country over the long-term a more attractive option.

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    ABSTRACT: Researchers investigating the political attitudes and behavior of immigrants in the U.S. have found that pre-migration experiences can shape orientations towards American politics. This paper asks a related question that has not received nearly as much attention: after settling in the U.S., what forces shape immigrants‟ attitudes towards political leaders and parties in their native country? We focus in particular on the contemporary Mexican-born population, and the impact of American campaigning on evaluations of Mexican President Felipe Calderón and the three major parties of Mexico. Two controlled mobilization experiments conducted in the fall of 2008 show that campaign outreach to Mexicans can boost ratings of Calderón and his party, the National Action Party (PAN). These findings speak to concerns that have been raised in Mexico and other migrant-sending nations regarding the extension of absentee voting rights to expatriates.