The Intersection of Candidate Gender and Ethnicity: How Voters Respond to Campaign Messages from Latinas

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Despite the recent surge of women of color in elected political office in the U.S., the representation of Latinas is strikingly low. Past research offers unclear conclusions as to whether Latina political candidates face biases due to the intersection of their identities as women and as ethnic minorities, and how Latinas can navigate such biases. In this study, we identify how Latinas draw on their intersectional identities as both women and ethnic minorities to develop strategic campaign messages and how voters respond to such messages. Through an analysis of campaign advertising data and an original survey experiment, we show that Latina candidates do not face an automatic disadvantage based in gender and ethnic biases, but they can benefit from the intersection of these two identities, especially among female minority voters. These results are consequential because they offer insights into how to improve the descriptive and substantive representation of marginalized groups in the U.S.

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