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San Diego Latinos Surveyed About Beliefs, Experiences


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


About The Survey

The San Diego Hispanic/Latino Survey compiled the responses of 400 Hispanic/Latino adults living in San Diego County.

The survey was conducted by phone over a one-week period during the summer of 2013.


Latinos Living In San Diego Survey

Latinos Living In San Diego Survey

KPBS partnered with San Diego Magazine and UC San Diego researcher Tom Wong to conduct a survey of Latinos living in San Diego.

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San Diego is already a majority-minority county. That means, not one ethnic or racial group comprises more than 50 percent of the population.

That majority-minority status is expected to continue for the next 50 years or so — except for one major change. The percentage of whites and Latinos in the population switch, with Latinos making up 48 percent of the population.

KPBS and San Diego Magazine recently commissioned a survey of Latinos living in San Diego to discover the attitudes and ideologies that may shape the community and our city in future years.

UC San Diego researcher Tom Wong wrote the survey. He said it looks at a number of issues including immigration and demographic change.

"We can think about increased diversity as the new normal," Wong said. "Part of the new normal is how society responds."

Wong is among a group of researchers who are interested in understanding how different racial and ethnic groups are faring within American society.

"Historically we've seen trends where communities have responded to immigration very negatively," Wong said. "We need to know, not from the perspective of an outsider looking in, how they feel. We need to hear from individuals themselves."

Wong said knowing how San Diego's Latino population feels will help the broader community have an open, honest dialogue.

Survey Results

All of the 400 survey respondents self-reported that they were Hispanic or Latino.

The respondents were asked questions ranging from how they viewed themselves, to whether they had experienced discrimination.

Photo caption:

Respondents to the San Diego Hispanic/Latino survey were asked, In what country were you born?

When asked whether life in San Diego would be better if the city’s diverse communities were more integrated, an overwhelming majority, 70 percent, responded yes.

Only about 12 percent of respondents said they felt San Diego is already one of the most diverse and integrated places in the United States.

The majority of respondents, 89 percent, said they had experienced “a little” to “a great deal” of discrimination.

Photo caption:

Regardless of where they were born, 60% of respondents said that someone who did not know their background or origin called them ‘Mexican.’ Of respondents who were not born in Mexico, the number who said they'd had this experience increases to 75%.

In regards to language, 52.5 percent responded they can speak English and Spanish equally, or speak English and a little or no Spanish

Photo caption:

The majority, 58 percent, of survey respondents reported no preference when using the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" to describe a person of Latin American descent.

Wong said, "When asked, 'how would you describe the average Hispanic/Latino,' respondents gave 212 distinct answers. The most frequent response by far was 'hard worker,' which was mentioned 202 times."

Other commonly used descriptions include "Good, Kind, Caring," "Important," "Family Oriented," and "Determined/Never Gives Up."

"Hard worker" was also the most frequent response (108 times) to a question about how the the average San Diegan would describe the average Latino.

Political Preference

From the survey, Wong said he was able to get a general sense of where the San Diego County Latino vote lies.

"In San Diego, they're much more conservative ideologically," Wong said.

Of those surveyed, most, 24 percent, said they are politically moderate; 16 percent said they are Conservative and 4 percent said they are "very conservative." Liberals make up 18 percent of the group with 5 percent reporting that they are "very liberal."

Wong said a question about which political party respondents identify with coupled with a question about whether they would vote for a candidate of different party shows that this group is not captured politically.

The majority of respondents, 40 percent, said they identify as a Democrat, followed by Independents at 26 percent and "Don't know" at 13 percent. Only 7 percent of respondents identified with the Republican party.

Wong said, this raises the question, "How does the republican party earn the vote of this group?"

He said the issue of immigration jumps out — 95 percent of respondents said that immigrants are a strength, not a burden to the U.S.

"When asked about whether they'd vote for candidate who was anti-immigrant, more than 75% said no," Wong said. "There was no greater sense of agreement between the respondents on issues than on immigration."

Photo caption:

The majority, 76 percent, of respondents said that would not support a candidate who was viewed as anti-immigrant.

But, the majority of those surveyed, 63 percent, said they did not vote in the last election.

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