Ethnic identity and voting are timely focus of new book | 10/9/2019 | Staff
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"Elections are the Super Bowl for political scientists," says Randy Besco, an assistant professor, tenure stream of political science at UTM and author of the recently published book, Identities and Interests: Race, Ethnicity, and Affinity Voting (UBC Press).

Elections are also a Petri dish for research, and this book allows Besco to focus his political scientist's lens on ethnic identity and how it plays out at the ballot box. Using survey research, experiments and both candidate and Census data, Besco made several interesting discoveries: voters from ethnic minorities who identify with their own minority group support candidates from that group, and these same voters are also more likely to support a candidate from another ethnic minority, rather than one from the white majority.

Canada - People - Parts - World - Minorities

"Canada is full of people from all parts of the world, and minorities are more likely to support minority candidates," he says. If there is no candidate from your minority running, "you do get cross-ethnic identification and voting. You see that you have something in common; voters say, 'This candidate is a minority or an immigrant like me.'"

Besco says this pattern may be particularly relevant to the upcoming federal election, where Jagmeet Singh of the New Democrats is the first non-white candidate to lead a federal political party.

Ethnicity - Factor - Party - Leader - Besco

"Ethnicity was an important factor when he was elected party leader," Besco says. "Indo-Canadians came out in big numbers to support him. I expect it to happen on a larger scale during the federal election."

Besco notes that the tendency for cross-ethnic voting is crucial for candidates in cities like Toronto where most ridings have voters with a mix of ethnicities, since "a political coalition of many minorities provides more power."

Findings - Value - Minority - Candidates - Votes

His findings argue for the value of nominating more minority candidates because they attract votes. Their candidacies go beyond tokenism; they offer benefits...
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