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Segura and Diaz Weigh In on Influence of Latino Vote

UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura spoke to El Diario about the impact of Latino voters on the outcome of the presidential election. Segura noted that Latino participation was “very strong” in Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Colorado states that were crucial in Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. According to Latino Decisions, a political opinion research firm co-founded by Segura, Biden had particularly strong support among Mexican and Puerto Rican voters. The pandemic, which disproportionately affects Latinos, and the economy were important factors in mobilizing the Latino vote. “Work has become the most important thing for the community, and not the political parties,” Segura said. El Diario also cited Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, which is researching Latino engagement in the election. “In counties with high Latino density, many of them key in this count, Latino voters opted for Vice President Biden,” Diaz said.


Zepeda-Millán on the Death Toll at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Associate Professor of Public Policy Chris Zepeda-Millán spoke to the Independent about the state of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as President Trump nears the end of his fourth year in office. Trump had promised to build a wall spanning the entire border; as of mid-October, about 370 miles of border barriers had been erected. At around $15 billion for the total project, it is projected to be the most expensive wall ever built, the article noted. After a decline in migrant apprehensions in late 2016 and 2017, immigration and apprehensions spiked again after the wall was slow to materialize. This contributed to an increase in the number of migrants who died while crossing the border during the first three years of the Trump administration. “The most devastating effect will undoubtedly be the increasing of migrant deaths as they get pushed further and further into dangerous deserts and isolated mountain areas,” Zepeda-Millán said. “That’s literally our stated policy.”


Peterson on Scenarios for a Messy Election Aftermath

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily about a post-election scenario that has raised concerns: What would happen if President Trump lost reelection but refused to give up power? Trump has made multiple comments suggesting that he would not commit to stepping down if he lost the election. According to Peterson, this scenario is highly unlikely. Election results are verified through the Electoral College and then declared by Congress, he explained. An incumbent president who fails to win a second term yet refuses to leave the White House may be escorted off the premises by the newly elected president’s Secret Service detail once power changes hands on Inauguration Day. Peterson added that Trump’s claims of voter fraud are baseless and “undermine the confidence that people have in our institutions and in our elected officials.” And he expressed concern about potential violence from informal right-wing militias who might be triggered into action by a Trump loss.


Gilens on the Gender Gap in U.S. Politics

Public Policy Chair Martin Gilens was featured in a New York Times article on the gender gap in U.S. politics. Over the years, women have been more likely than men to favor government spending on social issues. Trying to explain the gap, some scholars argued that women were voting in their self-interest. The article cited a counterargument Gilens wrote in the 1980s. “I do not believe that ‘women’s issues’ such as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) or abortion, nor economic conditions such as the growing number of impoverished women, are primarily responsible for the gender gap,” he wrote. “The gender gap reflects traditional differences in male and female values and personalities, differences such as men’s greater competitiveness and concerns with issues of power and control, and women’s greater compassion and nurturance, rejection of force and violence, and concern with interpersonal relations.” In 2020, Gilens noted, “women see [President Trump] as being the opposite of someone who is caring.” 


Zepeda-Millán Publishes ‘Walls, Cages, and Family Separation’

Walls, Cages, and Family Separation: Race and Immigration Policy in the Trump Era,” a new book co-authored by Associate Professor of Public Policy Chris Zepeda-Millán and University of Washington Associate Professor Sophia Jordan Wallace, takes a closer look at the evolution of U.S. immigration policy leading up to and during the presidency of Donald Trump. Published by Cambridge University Press, “Walls, Cages, and Family Separation” examines the “deeply racist roots” of U.S. immigration policy, which have been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s racially charged rhetoric and policies, including the border wall, migrant family separation and child detention measures. Zepeda-Millán and Wallace point to Trump as the “most blatantly anti-Latino and anti-immigrant president in modern American history” and examine the factors motivating his support base. Their research shows that resentment and fear among whites who feel culturally threatened by Latinos motivates them to support Trump’s immigration policies. They examine how support for immigrant detention and the wall has shifted over the duration of Trump’s presidency, as well as the stereotypes and misinformation that play a role in public perception of immigrants and immigration policy. While Trump’s immigration policies have been widely criticized and are unpopular with many Americans, Zepeda-Millán and Wallace argue that Trump is relying on his ability to “politically mobilize the most racially conservative segment of whites who back his draconian immigration enforcement measures” in his bid for reelection. “Walls, Cages, and Family Separation” is Zepeda-Millán’s second book, following his first release, “Latino Mass Mobilization: Immigration, Racialization, and Activism.”


Electoral College is Anti-Democratic, Gilens Says

Public Policy Chair Martin Gilens spoke to UCLA Blueprint about the anti-democratic nature of the electoral college. In 2016, Donald Trump became the fifth candidate to be awarded the presidency despite having lost the popular vote. Gilens explained that the electoral college was originally created by the Founding Fathers to “give greater influence in choosing the president to slave states without actually allowing slaves to vote” as well as to “insulate the choice of the president from ordinary voters.” While Gilens considers a constitutional amendment eliminating the electoral college to be unlikely, he explained that the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact” — an agreement among states to award all of their electors to whichever candidate wins the most votes nationwide — would make it possible to select the president by a majority vote.


Diaz on Trump’s Appeal to Latino Voters

Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to CNN about President Trump’s recent efforts to court Latino voters. While Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been criticized for being slow to commit resources to reach Latino voters, Trump has ramped up efforts to improve his standing among Latino constituents. “What appeals to Latino voters who are supporting Trump is the same thing that appeals to voters who support Trump,” Diaz said. “It’s likely that Latino males will support Trump in 2020 at higher rates than Latinas. And you see that generally in terms of the trends of white voters and white males in particular.” Diaz pointed to Trump’s appeal to male voters in general, saying, “I think that there’s something around masculinity and misogyny that is really galvanizing some voters who identify as men. And I don’t know that there is a cultural component to it. It’s just an American male phenomenon.”


Reliable, Accurate and Complete Count for 2020 Census Is at Risk UCLA study forecasts a severe undercount for people of color, immigrants and low-income individuals

By Melany De La Cruz-Viesca

A new UCLA report shows that the 2020 Census will severely undercount immigrants, low-income people and people of color.

Two key reasons are the COVID-19 pandemic and a directive issued July 21 by the Trump administration to cut population data collection operations short by one month; the Census Bureau must now end field data collection by Sept. 30.

To date, 93 million households, nearly 63% of all households in the U.S. have responded to the 2020 Census. In 2010, 74% of households in the United States filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaires, matching the final mail participation rate of the 2000 Census.

The White House directive and the public health crisis have made it an enormous challenge for the Census Bureau to ensure a complete and fair enumeration for the 2020 Census, according to the researchers. They write that racial and economic class biases threaten and undermine the goals of equal political representation and just allocation of resources.

The new analysis, by researchers from the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Ong & Associates, uses U.S. Census Bureau COVID Tracking Project data as of Aug. 1, and updates a previous UCLA report that analyzed self-response rates as of June 1.

The current report examines changes from 2010 to 2020, and the spread between tracts with high response rates and tracts with low response rates. While the overall response gap from 2010 to 2020 has closed to three to four percentage points as of Aug. 1, some communities have experienced more barriers to participating. Low-income and minority neighborhoods had lower response rates in 2010 than more advantaged neighborhoods, and that gap has only widened in 2020.

“It is highly likely and unfortunate that the 2020 Census will be flawed with severe undercounts of people of color and low-income individuals,” said Paul Ong, co-author of the report and director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin. “At this juncture, it is critically important to start developing methods to adjust the counts to develop a more accurate statistical picture of America and its people.”

Ong is also the founder of Ong & Associates, which provided its research services pro bono for the report.

The report results show that neighborhoods with high concentrations of Asian, Black, Hispanic and Indigenous populations experienced a greater decline in response rates relative to non-Hispanic white neighborhoods, when comparing 2010 and 2020 response rates. The estimated median response rates are 69.1% for non-Hispanic white, 66.7% for non-Hispanic Asian, 49.7% for non-Hispanic Black and 50.1% for Hispanic.

The research reveals that Hispanic (12.7%) and Indigenous (12.3%) people have the largest temporal gap from 2010 to 2020. What is particularly dramatic is the decline for Hispanic neighborhoods, which may be attributable to the stigma and fear associated with the controversial attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. Moreover, the pandemic appears to have created more barriers to participation for non-English speaking households and/or those without good internet connections.

The report finds that 2020 Census response rates vary systematically with economic class, ranging from 73.2% for the most affluent neighborhoods to 47.4% for the poorest neighborhoods. When comparing 2010 and 2020 Census response rates, the gaps also vary systematically by economic class, ranging from a less than one percentage point decline for the most affluent to a nine-percentage point decline for the poorest.

On April 18, the New York Times reported that the COVID-19 crisis had seriously hampered self-reporting, causing the Census Bureau to adjust its timeline and initially prolong the collection process to counter any shortfalls. The data collection period was extended from mid-August to October 31, but the recent White House directive will cause operations to end one month sooner.

The report points out that lower self-response rates will generate disproportionately more homes that must now be visited during an abbreviated — and labor-intensive — non-response follow-up phase. This will add great strain to the Census Bureau’s limited budget and resources, and add an overwhelming burden on Census workers, community-based organizations and other stakeholders participating in 2020 Census outreach efforts.

According to the authors, COVID-19 further compounds the challenges by creating barriers to face-to-face contacts because of a continued need for social distancing and other public-health precautions. Finally, the systematic low self-response rates in disadvantaged neighborhoods compound the problems because these are the same neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19.

The challenge that lies ahead is how the nation will address a seriously flawed enumeration, one with a significant overall undercount and differential undercount that will disproportionately hurt the poor and people of color, the researchers warn.

The authors recommend developing data and methods that enable researchers and statisticians to adjust the count and produce a more accurate and unbiased numerical picture of America and its people. The Census Bureau’s post-enumeration study will help, but it is also critically important for academic researchers to develop independent approaches.

“An adjustment is fundamental to ensuring fair political representation, just resource allocations, and social equality,” the researchers write.

Lens on Benefits of Affordable Housing

Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the benefits of affordable housing following the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s announcement that it would repeal the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. Implemented by the Obama administration, the provision required cities receiving federal housing aid to develop plans to address patterns of segregation or risk losing money. The new regulation under the Trump administration would allow local governments more latitude in deciding if their policies were racially discriminatory. Recent studies have found that affordable housing developments led to crime reductions in low-income areas and had no effect in higher-income neighborhoods. “The infinitesimal risk of increased crime as a result of increased ‘affordable’ or multifamily housing in U.S. suburbs is massively outweighed by the benefits to those actually housed, and other benefits of reducing concentrated poverty,” Lens said.


Newton Recommends Highlighting Biden’s Expertise

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on Joe Biden’s appeal as a presidential candidate with experience. Modern presidential candidates tend to identify either as “experts” or “authentics,” Newton said. He described candidates Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney as experts, well-versed in political issues but sometimes coming off as stiff and removed, while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are authentics whose frankness also has an appeal. While Biden is accustomed to presenting himself as an “aw-shucks populist who appeals to working people,” Newton argued that he may be better off highlighting his expertise. “During a crisis of this magnitude, expertise is essential and authenticity seems superfluous,” he wrote. While Americans chose to vote for Trump during a time of economic prosperity, Newton predicted that the coming election will favor expertise. Emphasizing his experience on health and economic issues may help Biden beat Trump in November, Newton said.