Mexican-American and Cuban-American Public
Opinion: Differences at the State Level?
DAVID L. LEAL
Latinos are a pervasive topic of discussion in the new century. On radio and television, and in newspapers, magazines, and academic journals alike, an interest in the Latino community is increasingly audible and visible. Politicians, business executives, movie directors, and academics are all thinking about the implications of this growing population for their own professions. Many of these people are asking the same question—What do Latinos want?—so that their company, party, or organization can sell commercial or political goods to this group. Others worry about the political, cultural, and economic implications of immigration. Such attention both positive and negative is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.
A key question, however, is whether a “Latino community” exists in the United States. Concepts like “Latino” or “Hispanic” are social constructions that have not necessarily been adopted by the populations in question.A number of researchers are interested in whether “Latinos” think of themselves in such pan-ethnic terms, or whether they prefer nationalorigin identifiers such as Mexican American or Cuban American (de la Garza et al., 1992; Jones-Correa and Leal, 1996).
In response to such concerns, a number of scholars have looked in more detail within the Latino label and found a number of important differences by national-origin group. For instance, Trueba (1999, 33) noted that, “we cannot trivialize the ethnic, social, racial, and economic differ-