Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community
Needs a Leader
Most Hispanics Cannot Name One
When asked to name the person they consider “the most important Hispanic leader in the country today,” 62% say they don’t know and an additional 9% say “no one.” Yet, three-quarters of Hispanic adults say it is “extremely” (29%) or “very” important (45%) for the U.S. Hispanic community to have a national leader advancing its concerns. This sentiment is higher among foreign-born and Spanish-dominant Hispanics.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were each cited by 5% of survey respondents as the most important Hispanic leader in the country today. Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (3%) and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (2%) were the only others mentioned by more than 2% of respondents.
The survey was conducted at a time when Latino political leaders and civic organizations have been pressing hard for legislation in Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11.7 million immigrants, the vast majority of them Latino, who are living in this country illegally.
Even though most Latinos say their community needs a national leader to advance its concerns, the survey finds that not all Latinos agree that their community has shared values. Four-in-ten (39%) Latinos say that U.S. Latinos of different origins share “a lot” of values, while another 39% say U.S. Latinos share “some” values. An additional 19% say that they share few or no values. Immigrant Latinos are more likely than native-born Latinos to say those of their Latino origin group have a lot of values in common with Latinos from different countries living in the U.S. (43% versus 33%).
When asked how many values U.S. Hispanics share with people living in their families’ country of origin, 38% say “a lot,” 34% say “some,” and 25% say “only a little” or “almost nothing.” Among Hispanic-origin groups, Salvadorans are most likely to say they share a lot of values with those in their home country. By contrast, Cubans are the most likely to say they share only a little or almost nothing with people in their home country.
Among the report’s other findings:
- Just one-in-five (20%) survey respondents say they most often describe themselves by the pan-ethnic labels “Hispanic” or “Latino.” About half say they usually use their family’s Hispanic-origin term (such as Mexican, Cuban, Salvadoran) to identify themselves, followed by 23% who use “American” most often.
- When asked which pan-ethnic term they prefer, “Hispanic” or “Latino,” half (50%) say they have no preference. When a preference is expressed, Hispanic (33%) is preferred over Latino (15%) by a margin of 2-1.
- Half (49%) of all Latinos say they consider themselves a typical American, while 44% say they feel different from the typical American—-a share that rises to 67% among immigrants who came to the U.S. in the past five years.
- Some 57% of Puerto Ricans, 55% of Cubans and 53% of Dominicans say they think of themselves as a typical American. Among all Latinos, 49% say the same.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan source of data and analysis. It does not take advocacy positions. Its Hispanic Trends Project, founded in 2001, seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos’ growing impact on the nation.