How It Shapes Us

Analysis: Interpersonal Relationships Play a Role In Diversity And Voting Choices

Diversity is the byproduct of several social processes like immigration and subsequently assimilation. Depending on how these processes take place, it will impact electoral preferences in different ways.

Last year during the presidential campaign trial, diversity was en vogue.

Questions such as whether Latinos would vote for Mr. Trump; whether African-Americans would turnout for Ms. Clinton at the same rate that they did in 2008 and 2012 and whether there was a racial/ethnic gap among the electorate were the questions of the day.

These questions are quite difficult to ask especially in a city that  lives and breathes diversity. And yet, diversity is one of those slippery words that we use every single day but we seldom take the time to think about what it means and its impacts. In this case, its electoral impacts.  

The data presented here is yet another attempt to try to make sense of the impact of diversity on voters’ preferences. By no means these data provides definitive answers nor it attempts to make any causal arguments, to the contrary these data highlights a myriad of social, economic and political processes that we do not fully comprehend but experience in our daily routine in one of the most diverse cities in the country.

 The most glaring attribute that one could place on the data is that the impact of diversity on vote choice varies significantly, that is, precincts that had a similar diversity index went for different candidates: Some went blue and some went red.

So, what is driving these results? Is it diversity? Is it the context? Individual-level characteristics like income and education? Well, it is the interaction of all these variables.

The complex process of  integrating diversity

In my mind diversity alone does not do the trick.

Diversity is the byproduct of several social processes like immigration and subsequently assimilation. Assimilation is a two-way street process by which newcomers and natives converge on a number of variables like education, earnings and language.

Depending on how these processes take place, whether individuals assimilate through the quintessential melting pot model ( for instance, newcomers “melt” into the existing pot), through the kaleidoscope model, through the tossed salad model (newcomers maintain a separate “identity” in comparison to the native born but form a unique dish) or through the tomato soup model (whatever you put into the soup will always taste as tomato soup) diversity is going to impact electoral preferences in different ways.

The impact of diversity on vote choice is also shaped by the kind of interpersonal relationships that are developed at the neighborhood level and whether these are conducted among equals or not as well as the characteristics of the neighborhood, that is, if people live and work in the same neighborhood or commute to other parts of the city.

These data is only the tip of the iceberg and opens new research avenues that will allow us to better understand some of these processes underlying voters’ choices. One thing that these data clearly suggests is that diversity and identity (political, racial, ethnic, etc.) are not necessarily contradictory, in fact, the reverse is true; diversity and identity create a hybrid culture that highlights what makes us different but also what we have in common and unite us as the embodiment of E pluribus unum.