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San Diego Latinos Surveyed About Beliefs, Experiences

November 14, 2013 1:18 p.m.


Tom Wong, Assistant Professor of political science at UC San Diego. He wrote the Hispanic/Latino survey.

Related Story: San Diego Latinos Surveyed About Beliefs, Experiences


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Our top story today, San Diego is already a majority minority County. Now one of the groups comprises more than half of the population. One major change, the percentage of blacks and Latinos switch with Latino Hispanic and making up 40% of the population. Recent surveys discovered the attitudes and ideologies that may shape the community and our city in future years. I would like to introduce Tom Wong, welcome come back to the program. When the survey was commissioned, what was the goal?

TOM WONG: From the outset, I can't say enough positive things about this survey and everyone who put together. It was clear that the goal is not just to create another survey, but to provide a survey for for public good. One that would spark discussion and focus on increasing part of the population.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So let's get to that in a minute. The discussion about the results. What do the demographics tell us about how influential the Latino Hispanic population is right now, and will be in the future in San Diego?

TOM WONG: In terms of the demographic trends it's not just specific to San Diego. By 2042 the entire country will be majority minority. Currently we already see that in California and in San Diego. With an increasingly Hispanic community, one that has deep roots in California and San Diego what is potentially - politically and socially - going to be one of the most vibrant communities and we are moving forward.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is it possible to determine the attitudes of a large population in a survey like this?

TOM WONG: Were talking about 400 respondents. We have a margin of error of 4.8%. It is within conventional levels. When we think about any sample, we want to be skeptical and we do not want to infer too much about results. In San Diego County we have over 1 million people who identify as Hispanic Latino. We have tolerable margin of error, we don't want to make generalizations. But we can gain incredible insight from a large survey.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kinds of questions were asked?

TOM WONG: We conducted the survey in both English and Spanish. There are three themes in particular. First, group relations and here we get into issues of discrimination another set of questions related to politics. And then lastly, a set of questions related to community involvement.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you see this survey there is a graphic on the word cloud featuring some of the frequently used words in response. What were some of those words?

TOM WONG: We started with a softball question about diversity and integration in San Diego because we sort of went into the survey with the idea that San Diego is one of the most diverse voices the country. When we asked about discrimination, we asked respondents in a yes no way but we also give them an answer to. We feel that only about 11% responded yes San Diego is already one of the most diverse places in the country. In an overwhelming majority of 70% said that city go would be better if it were more integrated. The question that you are referring to is a two-part question. In three words to describe your communities, and the highest frequency being words being good kind caring hard-working and honest. Ways that we might discover on committee. We followed that question up with three words how do you think the average person from San Diego would describe your community? The frequency of responses we see the same kind of responses but then we see some nasty terms. We see some explicit offensive terms, lazy, uneducated and illegal. These are Latino respondent telling us how they think city government perceives them. It's incredible to hear their own responses to these questions. It is also heartbreaking to think that this is the reality that these people feel.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You write your quite a good way to put that. In the questions seller you can get a response. Before we go on, I have to ask you about what is the difference between Hispanic and Latino. There is a preference for Hispanic Latino Hispanic or Latino identifying as a group. Here KPBS we tend to call members of the Latino community. What did you find in your survey?

TOM WONG: This is interesting because the project jumped off with the title of the Latino experience. We actually asked respondents with a prefer to be called your what they prefer to be called. There were a lot of people who did not have a preference. Most to had a preference preferred Hispanic or Latino. Traditionally, Hispanic describes someone with Spanish heritage. The Latino someone from Latin America. By combining Hispanic and Latino as one category, calling in and out of the city. If you're from any of these twenty-two Latin American countries or if you have roots back to Spanish origin, you are all lumped into the Hispanic Latino category.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One big question being asked here and nationally is how the group will change politics. What did you find out about political aptitude?

TOM WONG: On the heels of the 2012 election, much of the Latino population was supporting Obama. We think of San Diego County Latinos they do not overwhelmingly identify us to regret. In recent elections they have identified Democrat. We had a few results ever expected. Only 8% identify as Republicans. This is consistent. When we think about party identification, this is where we begin to find some interesting things. Democrats identify and tend to be more conservative than Hispanic Latinos latched naturally. Among independents, the actual opposite of what we expect. Independents tend to be more conservative ideologically, but the independents for us tended to identify is very liberal. Party identification and ideology were very interesting findings. We asked questions based on different findings. Their difference different disagreements over different issues. No area was there is much agreement as there was any issue of immigration. 95% of respondents saying immigration, where immigrants are the strength and not a burden the economy, we dig a little deeper and we say that if immigration is important to you, but if there's a per political party that supported ñ the Republic for these to say here. We know that the Democrats tend to be more conservative. We asked a different series of questions related to whether or not the respondent would vote for a Hispanic Latino candidate even if that person a different values. The answer was no. We also asked whether or not the respondent would vote for a candidate of the other party does assuming that the aligned on issues and the answer was yes. And Democrats more than Republican said yes. Democrats tend to be more conservative in that sample. This suggests to me that despite the 71% that voted for Obama. They are not saying Republican or Democrat.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In answering the question you also showed how these raw numbers are interpreted by someone who looks at the data a comparison across the board. Are there a lot of issues that are coming out of the survey that you want to explore further? What does that mean specifically?

TOM WONG: Group license generally, in terms of how they interact with each other we can think about those interactions as a political scientist we can think of those interactions being within the political arena. We know how people interact with each other, it starts waking up and say hi to your neighbor, driving on the roads and being cut off, those are the minute's aspects of that cumulatively add up to an experience that a person has in a place. Exploring those in the group dynamic is bit more special. We ask about stereotyping and how so many respondents have experienced negative stereotyping. To explore how that affects their committee involvement, that is one thing that I hope to explore further. To expand the stall of city is groups.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You go out even people love purported acts of discrimination are very involved in their community and want to be more involved.

TOM WONG: This is interesting. Some of the questions we asked about stereotyping a Hispanic Latino as being Mexican, when they could be from a dozen of different countries. Over half of the respondents experienced that stereotyping. Being stereotyped in the group of being a legal work in immigrant will even being nativeborn, stereotyped as being unable to speak English when they are English speaking. When we think about those experiences, that might have this image of an individual being disengaged. Why would I be a part of this community, when the community views in this way? Hypothesis going in terms of community involvement is completely wrong. We think these experiences with decrease one's engagement what it once community. Fighting the opposite those who are actively engaged are those who have experienced these negative stereotype. If the project of this and the goal of this is to create a more inclusive San Diego, and presents a real challenge that those are really to put themselves out there toward that goal are being treated in this way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Pick up the November issue of San Diego magazine or go on our website if you want to learn more. Thank you so much.