Nicholas A. Valentino

Elections, Public Opinion and Voting Behavior, Political Communication, Political Psychology

UCLA Ph.D, Political Science
26.15

Publications

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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Fabian G. Neuner
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    ABSTRACT: Since 2002, 26 U.S. states have passed laws that enhance restrictions on voters who intend to register and vote. Most have been sponsored by Republican legislators and passed by states with large Republican majorities. Proponents of such identification requirements argue that they are necessary to ensure the integrity of the electoral system by reducing voter fraud. Many Democrats have cried foul, arguing these laws are motivated by crass partisanship at best, and racial bias at worst, because they disproportionately disenfranchise minorities. Surprisingly, empirical evidence for significant demobilization, either in the aggregate or among Democrats specifically, has thus far failed to materialize. We suspect strong emotional reactions to the public debate about these laws may mobilize Democrats, counterbalancing the disenfranchising effect. We find support for this conjecture in a nationally representative survey and an experiment where news frames about voter identification (ID) laws are carefully manipulated.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Political Psychology
  • Cigdem V. Sirin · Nicholas A. Valentino · José D. Villalobos
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    ABSTRACT: Group Empathy Theory posits empathy felt by members of one group can boost support for another even when the groups are in direct competition for rights, security, and resources. We employ our theory to explain divergent reactions of majority versus minority groups to immigration threats. We conduct a two-wave national survey experiment with 1,799 participants consisting of a randomized sample of Anglos and randomized, stratified oversamples of African Americans and Latinos. The experiment manipulates racial/ethnic cues in a vignette depicting an ambiguous yet potentially threatening incident at an immigrant detention center. African Americans and Latinos are significantly more likely to side with minority detainees and support pro-civil rights policies and actions. The theory’s presumed causal mechanism—group empathy—is substantially stronger among African Americans and Latinos, and has a significant mediating effect on such distinct reactions.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · The Journal of Politics
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    ABSTRACT: This paper demonstrates that citizens in seven advanced industrialized democracies generally oppose more open immigration policies, but stand ready to admit individual immigrants. Using an experimental design, we demonstrate the applicability of the “person-positivity bias” to immigration and investigate the effects of economic and cultural “deservingness” on evaluations of individual immigrants. Our results show that immigrants from professional backgrounds elicit higher levels of support than unskilled workers. The bias against unskilled workers is enlarged among immigrants accompanied by families. In comparison with occupational status and the number of family dependents, the target immigrant’s cultural attributes—as measured by Middle Eastern nationality and Afrocentric appearance—prove relatively inconsequential as criteria for evaluating immigrants.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Public Opinion Quarterly
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Yioryos Nardis
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    ABSTRACT: http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-political-psychology-9780199760107?cc=us&lang=en&
    Full-text · Chapter · Sep 2013
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Ted Brader · Ashley E. Jardina
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    ABSTRACT: General ethnocentrism seems to be a powerful antecedent of immigration opinion, typically displaying larger effects than economic concerns. News about immigration, however, may focus attention on a particular group in a given historical moment. We predict group-specific affect, not general ethnocentrism, should most powerfully shape immigration policy opinion in the contemporary United States. We test this expectation with content analyses of news coverage, survey data from 1992 to 2008, a survey experiment, and official statistics. First, we find that mentions of Latinos in news coverage of immigration outpace mentions of other groups beginning in 1994, the year when Proposition 187, a proposal in California to end most social welfare and educational assistance to illegal immigrants, garnered significant national attention. Second, while ethnocentrism dominates economic concerns in explanations of Whites' immigration policy opinions, attitudes toward Latinos in particular account for nearly all of the impact of ethnocentrism since 1994. Finally, journalistic attention to Latino immigration roughly parallels actual rates of immigration from Latin America, suggesting the media shaping of policy opinion around this group may be driven by real-world demographic patterns.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Political Psychology
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    Allison Harell · Stuart Soroka · Shanto Iyengar · Nicholas Valentino
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    ABSTRACT: Past research suggests that citizens' attitudes toward immigration are driven by perceptions of immigrants' (a) economic status and (b) ethnicity. In this study, we use an online survey conducted with a representative sample of Canadians to test to what extent economic and cultural cues influence support for individual immigrants. In particular, by drawing on a parallel US survey, we explore whether Canadians' relatively unique (positive) attitudes toward immigration make them more immune to economic and cultural threat manipulations than their American counterparts. The analysis is based on an experimental design embedded in a series of immigrant vignettes that vary the ethnoracial background and social status of an individual applying for immigration. We examine overall support for immigration, as well as the extent to which both ethnic and economic status cues affect support for individual immigrants. We also explore variance within Canada, specifically, in Quebec versus the rest of the country. Results offer new and unique information on the structure of attitudes on diversity and immigration in Canada. Most importantly, they suggest the relative importance of economic cues in support for immigration in both countries.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Canadian Journal of Political Science
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Ted Brader
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    ABSTRACT: This study explores the impact of a momentous political event, the election of the nation's first black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, on perceptions of racism and opinions about racial policy. A representative panel study of Americans interviewed immediately before and after the election reveals a roughly 10 percent decline in perceptions of racial discrimination. About one quarter of respondents revised their perceptions of discrimination downward. We explore several explanations for this decline. First, motivated-reasoning theory would predict larger declines among those whose priors tell them that racism was a diminished force to begin with. Second, changes could be concentrated among those who have the least contact with out-group members, or who are less knowledgeable about politics, and therefore weight Obama's victory heavily in deciding how much racism exists in America. Third, based on theories of emotion and cognition, anxiety but not anger before the election might trigger substantial updating of beliefs. We found the drop in perceived discrimination to be widespread across groups in the population, with conservatives but not necessarily racially resentful whites exhibiting somewhat larger declines. Residential racial context had no effect on changes in perception, though declines were larger among the least politically knowledgeable. More notably, those citizens anxious but not angry before the election displayed much larger declines in perceived discrimination. Finally, declines in perceived discrimination were associated with increases in negative opinions of blacks and heightened opposition to both affirmative action and immigration.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Public Opinion Quarterly
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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of work suggests that exposure to subtle racial cues prompts white voters to penalize black candidates, and that the effects of these cues may influence outcomes indirectly via perceptions of candidate ideology. We test hypotheses related to these ideas using two experiments based on national samples. In one experiment, we manipulated the race of a candidate (Barack Obama vs. John Edwards) accused of sexual impropriety. We found that while both candidates suffered from the accusation, the scandal led respondents to view Obama as more liberal than Edwards, especially among resentful and engaged whites. Second, overall evaluations of Obama declined more sharply than for Edwards. In the other experiment, we manipulated the explicitness of the scandal, and found that implicit cues were more damaging for Obama than explicit ones. KeywordsRace–Voting behavior–Stereotypes
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Political Behavior
  • Eric Groenendyk · Ted Brader · Nicholas Valentino
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract will be provided by author.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2011
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    ABSTRACT: A large literature has established a persistent association between the skills and resources citizens possess and their likelihood of participating in politics. However, the short-term motivational forces that cause citizens to employ those skills and expend resources in one election but not the next have only recently received attention. Findings in political psychology suggest specific emotions may play an important role in mobilization, but the question of “which emotions play what role?” remains an important area of debate. Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory and the Affective Intelligence model, we predict that anger, more than anxiety or enthusiasm, will mobilize. We find evidence for the distinctive influence of anger in a randomized experiment, a national survey of the 2008 electorate, and in pooled American National Election Studies from 1980 to 2004.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · The Journal of Politics
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    Danny Osborne · David O. Sears · Nicholas A. Valentino
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    ABSTRACT: The partisan realignment of the White South, which transformed this region from being solidly Democratic to being the base of the Republican Party, has been the focus of much scholarship. Exactly how it occurred is unclear. Widespread individual-level attitude changes would be contrary to the well-known within-person stability of party identification. However, according to the impressionable-years hypothesis, events that occur during adolescence and early adulthood may have a lasting impact on later political attitudes. This would suggest that cohort replacement may be driving partisan realignment. We test this possibility using data from the American National Election Studies from 1960 to 2008. Consistent with the impressionable-years hypothesis, Southern Whites from the pre-Civil Rights cohort (born before 1936) maintained their Democratic Party identification longer than their younger counterparts. However, all cohorts in the South have changed their partisan attitudes at comparable rates over time, contrary to the impressionable-years hypothesis. These data suggest that the partisan realignment of the South was driven by both cohort replacement and within-cohort attitude change. More targeted case studies of older cohorts living through the civil rights era, and of younger cohorts in the post-Reagan era, yield results generally consistent with the impressionable-years hypothesis. More generally, our findings suggest that very large scale events are required to disrupt the normal continuity of party identification across the life span.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · Political Psychology
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    Ted Brader · Nicholas A. Valentino · Ashley E. Jardina · Timothy J. Ryan
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    ABSTRACT: Explanations for racial gaps in national policy opinion are often complicated by overlapping class/material and identity-based forces. If blacks are more favorable to racial or social welfare policies, it is difficult to know whether their material interests or their identification as a member of an oppressed group causes this difference. The domain of immigration policy offers a unique opportunity to contrast class/material interest versus symbolic politics explanations of the racial gap, since blacks material interests regarding the issue should, on average, push them to be more conservative on the issue than whites, and to be much more reactive to threatening news stories about immigrants. Symbolic politics theory would expect, on the other hand, that blacks might identify with oppressed groups, including immigrants, and therefore take less restrictive or punitive positions on the issue and to be less persuaded by threatening news. We employ ANES survey data and an Internet survey experiment with a national sample of whites and an oversample of blacks. We find that blacks are, in fact, consistently more permissive on immigration than whites across a host of different policies. Second, group attitudes, not material interests drive individual differences in both black and white opinions about immigration. Finally, blacks are much more resistant than whites to negatively framed news stories about the impact of immigration. In general, this pattern of findings strongly supports the notion that immigration opinion is driven by symbolic concerns like group identity, and less by class or individual material interests.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2010
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Antoine J. Banks · Vincent L. Hutchings · Anne K. Davis
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    ABSTRACT: The rise of the Internet forces scholars to reevaluate the frequency and nature of political information seeking in the contemporary period. The functionality of the Internet makes passive exposure more difficult, and selective information seeking easier, than in the past. However, people may also use the Internet in a new and directed way—to arm themselves with information to express and defend their views either online or in the real world. The central question we explore in this paper is what explains balanced versus biased information seeking in the era of the Internet? We combine insights from Sears and Freedman (1967) with newer work on emotion to predict motivated selectivity: focusing specifically on the interaction between anxiety and information utility. Our central theoretical claim is that anxiety does not simply boost any information seeking; it triggers information seeking that is useful for addressing the problem at hand. Anxiety alone, therefore, does not guarantee a balanced information search. When counterattitudinal information is useful for some reason—for example, to defend their own opinions to others who may disagree—anxious citizens should seek it out. As a consequence, these subjects should learn more specific information about where each candidate stands on the issues. In an experiment we find support for these hypotheses. We conclude that while today's flexible Internet environment may permit selectivity, balanced seeking should still occur under a fairly common set of circumstances.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2009 · Political Psychology
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    Ted Brader · Nicholas A. Valentino · Elizabeth Suhay
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    ABSTRACT: We examine whether and how elite discourse shapes mass opinion and action on immigration policy. One popular but untested suspicion is that reactions to news about the costs of immigration depend upon who the immigrants are. We confirm this suspicion in a nationally representative experiment: news about the costs of immigration boosts white opposition far more when Latino immigrants, rather than European immigrants, are featured. We find these group cues influence opinion and political action by triggering emotions—in particular, anxiety—not simply by changing beliefs about the severity of the immigration problem. A second experiment replicates these findings but also confirms their sensitivity to the stereotypic consistency of group cues and their context. While these results echo recent insights about the power of anxiety, they also suggest the public is susceptible to error and manipulation when group cues trigger anxiety independently of the actual threat posed by the group.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2008 · American Journal of Political Science
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Krysha Gregorowicz · Eric W. Groenendyk
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    ABSTRACT: Political behavior is triggered by the presence of a variety of material and cognitive resources, including political efficacy. The dominant view conceptualizes efficacy as capital, used to overcome obstacles to participation. Our theory suggests that unlike other resources, efficacy aids in the development of habitual participation by activating a particular negative emotion, anger. Using the 1990–1992 NES Panel, we find that internal efficacy boosts participation in part by facilitating anger, but not fear, in response to policy threats. This partial mediating effect operates primarily among younger citizens who are in the process of developing the habit of participation. External efficacy, because it is not self-referential, is not causally linked to participation via emotions. Finally, internal efficacy is enhanced by successful participation in politics, closing a feedback loop that helps explain participatory habits.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2008 · Political Behavior
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · Vincent L. Hutchings · Antoine J. Banks · Anne K. Davis
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    ABSTRACT: In this study we explore the mediating role of emotions in the process of becoming a politically informed citizen. Contrary to previous studies, we expect that anger and anxiety will have much different effects on this process. We suspect the role of anxiety is somewhat unique even among negative emotions as mediator of the causal effect of political threats on information seeking and learning. In addition, we speculate that anxiety should improve the quality of information seeking, not just its quantity. In one experiment, we induce emotions directly and find that while anger, enthusiasm, and anxiety can lead people to claim they will pay attention to the campaign, anger actually depresses total information seeking. In a second experiment, we examine the impact of realistic political threats and find that exposure triggers several emotions but that only anxiety boosts information seeking and learning.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2008 · Political Psychology
  • Nicholas A. Valentino

    No preview · Article · Dec 2006 · Public Opinion Quarterly
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    Nicholas A. Valentino · David O. Sears
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    ABSTRACT: Our focus is the regional political realignment that has occurred among whites over the past four decades. We hypothesize that the South's shift to the Republican party has been driven to a significant degree by racial conservatism in addition to a harmonizing of partisanship with general ideological conservatism. General Social Survey and National Election Studies data from the 1970s to the present indicate that whites residing in the old Confederacy continue to display more racial antagonism and ideological conservatism than non-Southern whites. Racial conservatism has become linked more closely to presidential voting and party identification over time in the white South, while its impact has remained constant elsewhere. This stronger association between racial antagonism and partisanship in the South compared to other regions cannot be explained by regional differences in nonracial ideology or nonracial policy preferences, or by the effects of those variables on partisanship.
    Full-text · Article · May 2005 · American Journal of Political Science
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    VINCENT L. HUTCHINGS · NICHOLAS A. VALENTINO · TASHA S. PHILPOT · ISMAIL K. WHITE
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown that social "compassion" issues, and not those directly linked to women's interests, seem to drive the gender gap in presidential vote choice. Some of these compassion issues are associated with the plight of racial minorities in the media and in the minds of average citizens. Drawing on theories of gender role socialization, we predict that traditional partisan stands on racial issues may help to explain the gender gap. Specifically, we hypothesize that the gap emerges because men and women react differently to cues about how compassionate candidates are toward vulnerable social groups. In one experiment, we manipulate news information regarding George W. Bush's commitment to blacks versus women. The gender gap is maximized when Bush takes the traditional Republican stance, while it is reduced significantly when Bush espouses a more moderate position. The gender gap is unaffected by variation in the position that Bush takes on women's issues. In another experiment, we also find that the gender gap emerges when traditional partisan appeals are racialized. Finally, exposure to the 2000 Republican National Convention, with its message of racial inclusion, boosted evaluations of Bush among women but not men.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2004 · Public Opinion Quarterly
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    N. A. Valentino

    Full-text · Article · Jun 2004 · Journal of Communication

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