September 21, 2014
Nearly 100% of Latinos with very dark skin vote Republican. Latinos with light skin vote Democrat an average of 43% with a high standard deviation.
The darkest Asians were also found to vote Democrat at higher rates than lighter skinned Asians.
The results show that lighter-skinned Latinos are more likely than darker-skinned Latinos to identify as Republican and to vote for Republicans. For example, in the 2012 election for Senate, the darkest-skinned Latinos are estimated to have a 98 percent chance of voting for the Democrat, whereas the lightest-skinned Latinos are estimated to have a 43 percent chance.
Unfortunately, the ANES has too few Asian Americans to run a comparable analysis. Moreover, skin color was measured by the interviewer, perhaps imperfectly. It is possible that an interviewer’s estimate of a respondent’s skin color is influenced by the interviewer’s perceptions of the respondent’s political views – if, for example, the interviewer holds a stereotype that Obama supporters are dark-skinned.
To address these limitations, I examine an additional dataset: the recently released 2008 Collaborative Multi-racial Post-election Survey (CMPS). This survey conducted interviews with a large number of Asian-American registered voters, including interviews in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese. Furthermore, the measure of skin tone is obtained through self-reporting, mitigating concerns about interviewer biases.
The graphs below reveal a pattern for Asian Americans that is similar to that of Latinos, albeit somewhat attenuated: light-skinned Asian Americans are more likely than dark-skinned Asian Americans to identify as Republican and vote for Republicans if they are lighter-skinned. The one exception is the relationship between skin tone and voting Democrat for Senate in 2008, which does not reach conventional standards of statistical significance.