Brader, Valentino, and Suhay

Brader, Valentino, and Suhay - What Triggers Public...

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What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Group Cues, and Immigration Threat Ted Brader University of Michigan Nicholas A. Valentino The University of Texas at Austin Elizabeth Suhay University of Michigan 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 . I mmigration surged onto the national agenda follow- ing the 2004 election, as politicians wrangled over reforms on what is perceived to be a growing prob- lem for the United States (U.S.). Public concern followed, with 10% of Americans by 2006 naming it the most im- portant problem facing the country, the highest level in 20 yearsofpollingbyPewResearchCenter.Itbecameamajor issue in the 2008 presidential election. Republican anger at John McCain for his support of the Comprehensive Im- migration Reform Act contributed to the near collapse of the early front-runner’s campaign in 2007. A few months later,Republicansinthelead-offIowacaucusespickedim- migration as the country’s most important problem more than any other issue (including war, terrorism, and the economy). 1 Debates about immigration have flared at in- Ted Brader is associate professor of political science, University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies, 4242 ISR, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248 (tbrader@umich.edu). Nicholas A. Valentino is Mike Hogg professor of community affairs, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Government, 1 University Station A1800, Austin, TX 78712-0119 (nvalenti@austin.utexas.edu). Elizabeth Suhay is a doctoral candidate in political science, University of Michigan, Department of Political Science, 5700 Haven Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045 (suhay@umich.edu). Data collection for this article was made possible by Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) and grants from the Howard R. Marsh Center for the Study of Journalistic Performance and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Antoine Banks, Andrea Benjamin, and Eric Groenendyk provided excellent research assistance. For helpful comments on this research at various stages, we thank
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This note was uploaded on 08/13/2010 for the course PSC 120 taught by Professor Sides during the Spring '10 term at GWU.

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Brader, Valentino, and Suhay - What Triggers Public...

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