CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Transcending Turnout: Identity, Campus Experiences, and the Political Behaviors of Latinx Youth

Isabella Fierro, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Michael Jones-Correa

Date of this Version: 06 April 2020



Latinx youth are increasingly the focus of American politics and campaigns. They are a passionate and ever-growing segment of what is predicted to be the largest ethnic group of eligible voters in 2020. However, this population consistently produces low rates of turnout in national elections. This thesis aims to understand how the campus experiences of Latinx undergraduates may influence their political behaviors in light of recent events. Political behaviors are assessed by political views and political participation in both electoral and nonelectoral activities. Using survey data from the Higher Education Research Institute, the study first investigates changes in students' political behaviors from their freshmen to senior years. It then examines the relationship between those behaviors and campus experiences. The research analyzes the results based on differences in identity such as sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic background, and acculturation. The paper also provides deeper insight into campus experiences through in-person interviews at the University of Pennsylvania. The results conclude that campus experiences that make Latinx identity salient and provide students with opportunities for education on social issues and activism have the greatest impact on political behaviors. Participation in identity-based organizations and first-hand experiences of discrimination show significant positive effects on political behaviors, namely political participation. Students who feel that racial tension is present on their campuses are also increasingly left-leaning and have higher levels of political participation. The research also found that students show passionate reactions to cases of national group threat and that those of intersectional identities are more likely to have higher rates of political engagement. The paper then provides insight into future research on understanding the dynamics of Latinx students and political engagement.


American Politics

Suggested Citation

Fierro, Isabella, "Transcending Turnout: Identity, Campus Experiences, and the Political Behaviors of Latinx Youth" 06 April 2020. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 10 June 2020




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