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Spanish-Language Television and Latino Turnout

Sat, September 2, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Hilton Union Square, Nob Hill 8 & 9


Despite their increasing salience on the national stage, turnout rates among Latinos continue to lag behind those of blacks and whites. Though earlier studies emphasized the importance of socioeconomic factors in accounting for this discrepancy, the unique status of Latinos as ethnic and linguistic minorities has led to a growing body of work assessing the role of language. This paper examines whether the introduction of Spanish-language media coincides with increases in political participation among Latinos. We exploit a geographic regression discontinuity involving station coverage boundaries. Contrary to our expectations, we find that the introduction of Spanish-language television decreases Latino political participation. We replicate this pattern in observational data from two nationally representative samples of Latinos.