David L. Leal

Faculty Research AssociatePh.D., Harvard University

Professor of Government
David L. Leal


  • Phone: 512.471.1343
  • Office: BAT 3.140
  • Office Hours: Thursday, 12:15 to 3:15 PM
  • Campus Mail Code: A1800


Latino Politics and Policy


• Fellow of the Patterson-Banister Chair (2014-)
• Associate Member, Nuffield College, University of Oxford (Trinity Term, 2015)
• Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer (Japan; July, 2014)

I have been a professor at the University of Texas at Austin since 2002. My primary academic interests are Latino politics and policy, and I have taught classes such as Latino Politics, Mexican American Public Policy Studies, Politics and Religion, and the U.S. Congress. 

I received my Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1998, and from 1998-99 I was an APSA Congressional Fellow in Washington, DC, working in the office of a U.S. senator. In 2013, I was named a Distinguished Alumni Scholar by Stanford University, where I received my undergraduate degree.  

Research Interests
My Latino politics research spans the fields of political behavior, public policy, and public opinion. In addition, my work incorporates insights from disciplines such as sociology, economics, ethnic studies, and religious studies.

My research has anticipated themes that have become important to both social science and the ‘real world’ of politics.  For instance, in the 1990s, I began researching how religion shapes political engagement, the political participation of non-citizens, the complexities of ethnic identity, and how veterans engage in politics.  Today, I continue to work on questions involving Latino political behavior and opinion, the politics of migration, religion and politics, and the military and society. 

Google Scholar Citations

• Director, Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute, University of Texas at Austin
• Founding Director, Immigration Studies Initiative, University of Texas at Austin
• Book Series Editor: “Immigrants and Minorities, Politics and Policy.” Springer
• Member, Editorial Board, Political Research QuarterlySocial Science Quarterly, and Education Next
• In the media: Monkey Cage/Washington Post ("Recent Veterans are More Republican than Older Ones. Why?"), NBC Latino ("Entering College? Latino Professors Share Some Great Advice"), and New York Times (“Room for Debate: Why Congress Falters on Immigration”)
• 2006-2008: Member, American Political Science Association (APSA) Task Force on Religion and Democracy in the United States
• 2002-2004: National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow


In Progress. David L. Leal, Taeku Lee, and Mark Sawyer (Eds.). Oxford Handbook of Racial and Ethnic Politics in the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Individual chapters first appearing electronically via Oxford Handbooks Online.

Forthcoming. David L. Leal, Jerod Patterson, and Joe R. Tafoya. “Religion and the Political Engagement of Latino Immigrants: Bridging Capital or Segmented Religious Assimilation?” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences.

2016. David L. Leal and Néstor P. Rodríguez (Editors). Migration in an Era of Restriction and Recession: Sending and Receiving Nations in a Changing Global Environment. New York: Springer.

2015. Jacqueline M. Hagan, David L. Leal, and Nestor P. Rodriguez. "Deporting Social Capital: Implications for Immigrant Communities in the United States." Migration Studies, v3: 370-392.

2015. Heeju Shin, David L. Leal, and Christopher G. Ellison. “Sources of Support for Immigration Restriction: Economics, Politics, or Anti-Latino Bias?” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, v37: 459-481.

2015. Heeju Shin, David L. Leal, and Christopher G. Ellison. “Does Anti-Hispanic Bias Motivate Opposition to Non-English Languages?Sociological Inquiry, v85: 375–406.

2015. “Defending the Federation from the Rom-ulan Empire, or If Conferences Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix Them.” PS: Political Science & Politics (Symposium on Reinventing the Scholarly Conference, edited by Mark Rom), v48(2): 337-340.

2014. David L. Leal. “Immigration Policy Versus Immigration Politics: Latinos and the Reform Debate.” In Tony Payan and Erika de la Garza (Eds.), Undecided Nation: Political Gridlock and the Immigration Crisis. New York: Springer.

2013. David L. Leal and Jerod Patterson. “House Divided? Evangelical Catholics, Mainstream Catholics, and Attitudes toward Immigration and Life Policies.” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (Special issue on Catholicism in American Politics, edited by Byron Shafer).

2013. “Chapters, Volumes, Editors! Oh My! Reassessing the Role of Edited Volumes in the Social Sciences.”  PS: Political Science & Politics, v46: 380-82.

2013. Jason P. Casellas and David L. Leal. “Partisanship or Population? House and Senate Immigration Votes in the 109th and 110th Congresses.” Politics, Groups, and Identities, v1(1): 48-65 (Inaugural issue of new WPSA journal). 

2013. Taofang Huang, David L. Leal, Byung-Jae Lee, and Jill Strube. “Assessing the Online Legislative Resources of the American States.Policy & Internet, v4: 72-90.

Article featured in June 3, 2013 post on Oxford Internet Institute's "The Policy and Internet Blog: Understanding Public Policy Online": "How accessible are online legislative data archives to political scientists?"

2013. David L. Leal and Curt Nichols. “Military Family Attitudes towards Senior Civilian Leaders in the United States.” Armed Forces & Society, v39: 53-77.

2013. Gary P. Freeman, Randall Hansen, and David L. Leal (Eds.). Immigration and Public Opinion in Liberal Democracies. New York: Routledge.

2013. David L. Leal and Jose E. Limón (Eds.). Immigration and the Border: Politics and Policy in the New Latino Century. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press.

2013. Gary P. Freeman, David L. Leal, and Jake Onyett. “Pointless: On the Failure to Adopt an Immigration Points System in the United States.” In Phil Triadafilopoulos (Ed.), Wanted and Welcome? Highly Skilled Immigration Policies in Comparative Perspective. New York: Springer.

2013. "The World of Sherlock Holmes." In Wm. Roger Louis (Ed.), Irrepressible Adventures with Britannia: Personalitites, Politics and Culture in Britain. London: I.B. Tauris & Austin: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.

Volume reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald: "David Leal’s [chapter] explores 'the World of Sherlock Holmes' and reflects why Holmes is the most popular 'British character' with James Bond, exercising cultural 'soft power', while France is stuck with Inspector Clouseau."

2012. David L. Leal, Byung-Jae Lee, and James A. McCann. “Transnational Absentee Voting in the 2006 Mexican Presidential Election: The Roots of Participation.” Electoral Studies, v31: 540-549.

2012. Julie A. Dowling, Christopher G. Ellison, and David L. Leal. “Who Doesn’t Value English? Debunking Myths About Mexican Immigrants’ Attitudes Towards the English Language.” Social Science Quarterly, v93: 356-78.

2011. Christopher G. Ellison, Heeju Shin, and David L. Leal. "The Contact Hypothesis and Attitudes toward Latinos in the United States." Social Science Quarterly, v92: 938-958.

2011. David L. Leal. “Latinos, Immigration, and the U.S. Recession.” In John Higley, John Nieuwenhuysen, and Stine Neerup (eds.), Immigration and the Financial Crisis: The United States and Australia Compared. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

2011. David L. Leal and Kenneth J. Meier (Eds.). The Politics of Latino Education. New York: Teachers College Press. 

Reviewed in Teachers College Record (2011), Education Update (2012), and Journal of School Choice (2014).

2011. Kenneth J. Meier, Eric Gonzalez Juenke, David L. Leal, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers “The Effect of Electoral Structure on Representation: Latino Education Politics, 1986 and 2001.” In David L. Leal and Kenneth J. Meier (Eds.), The Politics of Latino Education. New York: Teachers College Press.

2011. John Bohte, David L. Leal, Jerry L. Polinard, James P. Wenzel, and Robert D. Wrinkle. “A Solution or a Problem?  Charter Schools and Latino Students in Traditional Texas Public Schools.” In David L. Leal and Kenneth J. Meier (Eds.), The Politics of Latino Education. New York: Teachers College Press.

2010. Corrine M. McConnaughy, Ismail K. White, David L. Leal, and Jason P. Casellas. "A Latino on the Ballot: Explaining Co-Ethnic Voting among Latinos and the Response of White Americans." Journal of Politics, v72: 1199-1211.

2010. Rodolfo O. de la Garza, Louis DeSipio, and David L. Leal (Eds). Beyond the Barrio: Latinos in the 2004 Elections. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press.

2010. David L. Leal and Stephen J. Trejo (Eds.). Latinos and the Economy: Integration and Impact in Schools, Labor Markets, and Beyond. New York: Springer.

2010. David L. Leal, Curt Nichols, and Jeremy Teigen. “Latino Veterans and Income: Are There Gains from Military Service?” In David L. Leal and Stephen J. Trejo (Eds.), Latinos and the Economy. New York: Springer.

2010. "Religion in Latino Political and Civic Lives." In Alan Wolfe and Ira Katznelson (Eds.), Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity? Princeton and New York: Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation.  

This book is the culmination of the APSA Task Force on Religion and Democracy in the United States (JSTOR: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7t4ht)

Volume reviewed in Journal of American Studies: "The political lives of American Latinos direct Leal’s essay. As a synthesis of available research, his nuanced take on the relationship between religion, grassroots organizing, ethnic identity, culture, and party politics is a must-read, especially for anyone teaching Latino politics."

2010. Jason P. Casellas and David L. Leal. "Minority Representation in the United States Congress." In Karen Bird, Thomas Saalfeld, and Andreas M. Wüst (Eds.), The Political Representation of Immigrants and Minorities: Voters, Parliaments and Parties in Liberal Democracies: Voters, Parties, and Parliaments. London: Routledge (ECPR Studies in European Political Science).

2010. Rodolfo O. de la Garza and David L. Leal. “Latino Politics.” In George T. Kurian (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Political Science. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

2009. “Stalemate: U.S. Immigration Reform Efforts, 2005 to 2007.” People & Place, v17: 1-17.

2009. James A. McCann, Wayne A. Cornelius, and David L. Leal. "Absentee Voting and Transnational Civic Engagement among Mexican Expatriates." In Jorge I. Domínguez, Chappell Lawson, and Alejandro Moreno (Eds.), Consolidating Mexico’s Democracy: The 2006 Presidential Campaign in Comparative Perspective. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

2009. "Latinos, Immigration, and Social Cohesion in the United States." In John Higley and John Nieuwenhuysen (Eds.), Nations of Immigrants: Australia and the USA Compared. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

2009. Book Review: Maurice Bowra: A Life. Leslie Mitchell, 2009, Oxford University Press. Canadian Journal of Higher Education / Revue canadienne d’enseignement supérieur.

2008. Terri E. Givens, Gary P. Freeman, and David L. Leal (Eds.). Immigration Policy and Security: US, European, and Commonwealth Perspectives. New York: Routledge.

2008. "The Citizen-Soldier, Then and Now: The National Guard, Military Reserves, and ROTC." In Derek S. Reveron and Judith Hicks Stiehm (Eds.), Inside Defense: Understanding the U.S. Military in the 21st Century. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.

2008. David L. Leal, Stephen A. Nuño, Jongho Lee, and Rodolfo O. de la Garza. "Latinos, Immigration, and the 2006 Midterm Elections." PS: Political Science & Politics, v41: 309-317.

2007. Guest Editor for Special Issue "Latino Politics During the Bush Years." American Politics Research, v35, n2.

2007. Matt A. Barreto and David L. Leal. "Latinos, Military Service, and Support for Bush and Kerry in 2004." American Politics Research, v35: 224-251.

2007. "Latinos, Religion, and the 2004 Presidential Election." In David E. Campbell (Ed.), A Matter of Faith? Religion in the 2004 Elections. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

2007. Rodolfo Espino, David L. Leal, and Kenneth J. Meier (Eds.). Latino Politics: Identity, Mobilization, and Representation. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. Reviewed in Centro Journal (Spring, 2009).

2007. "Latino Public Opinion: Does It Exist?" In Rodolfo Espino, David L. Leal, and Kenneth J. Meier (Eds.), Latino Politics: Identity, Mobilization, and Representation. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

2007. "Students in Uniform: ROTC, the Citizen-Soldier, and the Civil-Military Gap." PS: Political Science & Politics, v40: 479-483.

2006. Electing America's Governors: The Politics of Executive Elections. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.

Reviewed in Political Science Quarterly (Spring 2008) by Thad Kousser: "Leal's explicitly comparative approach of studying governors and senators side by side is a welcome innovation. Few works on state or national politics collect data on both levels of government. Leal does so in this book, often conducting parallel analyses to discover what governors have in common with the senators who represent the same sets of constituents, and how their campaign dynamics differ. The end product is a book that provides the most wide-ranging analysis of gubernatorial elections yet produced, and puts its findings in the context of races for other offices . . . [an] intriguing book."

2006. Symposium Editor: "The Politics of Canada." PS: Political Science & Politics, v39, n4.

2006. "Symposium Introduction: Canada – The Unknown Country." PS: Political Science & Politics, v39: 813-814.

2006. David L. Leal and Dan Lipinski. "Northern Exposure? The Politics of Canadian Provincial Admission into the United States." PS: Political Science & Politics, v39: 843-847.

2006. "Mexican-American and Cuban-American Public Opinion: Differences at the State Level?" In Jeffrey Cohen (Ed.), Public Opinion in State Politics. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

2005. "American Public Opinion toward the Military: Differences by Race, Gender, and Class?" Armed Forces & Society, v32: 123-138.

2005. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "School House Politics: Expenditures, Interests, and Competition in School Board Elections." In William Howell (Ed.), Beseiged: School Boards and the Future of Education Politics. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

2005. David L. Leal, Matt A. Barreto, Jongho Lee, and Rodolfo O. de la Garza. "The Latino Vote in the 2004 Election." PS: Political Science & Politics, v38: 41-49.

2004. "Latinos and School Vouchers: Testing the ‘Minority Support’ Hypothesis." Social Science Quarterly, v85: 1227-1237.

2004. David L. Leal and Frederick M. Hess. "Who Chooses Experience? Examining the Use of Veteran Staff by House Freshmen." Polity, v36: 651-664.

2004. Luis R. Fraga and David L. Leal. "Playing the ‘Latino Card’: Race, Ethnicity, and National Party Politics." Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, v1: 297-317.

2004. David L. Leal, Valerie Martinez-Ebers, and Kenneth J. Meier. "The Politics of Latino Education: The Biases of At-Large Elections." Journal of Politics, v66: 1224-1244.

2004. "Assessing Traditional Teacher Preparation: Evidence from a Survey of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs." In Frederick M. Hess, Andrew Rotherham & Kate Walsh (Eds.), A Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom? Appraising Old Answers and New Ideas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

2003. David L. Leal and Frederick M. Hess. "Technocracies, Bureaucracies, or Responsive Polities? Urban School Systems and the Politics of School Violence Prevention." Social Science Quarterly, v84: 526-542.

2003. David L. Leal, Frederick M. Hess, and Syed A. Ali. "Contestation versus Replacement? Republican Party Gains in Southern State Legislative Elections." Politics & Policy, v31: 648-670.

2003. "Early Money and Senate Primary Elections." American Politics Research, v31: 93-104.

2003. "Democratization and the Ghost of Zapata: Mexico from 1959 to 1991." International Journal of Public Opinion Research, v15: 134-150.

2003. "Unorthodox Lawmaking: Juvenile Crime Legislation after Columbine." In Colton C. Campbell and Paul S. Herrnson (Eds.), War Stories from Capitol Hill. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

2003. "Minority Voters and Candidates: Tracking Trends." In Robert Watson and Colton Campbell (Eds.), Campaigns and Elections: Issues, Concepts, and Cases. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

2002. "Political Participation by Latino Non-Citizens in the United States." British Journal of Political Science, v32: 353-370.

2001. Michael Jones-Correa and David L. Leal. "Political Participation: Does Religion Matter?" Political Research Quarterly, v54: 751-770.

Recipient of the Western Political Science Association award for best paper published in Political Research Quarterly in 2001.

2001. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "The Opportunity to Engage: How Race, Class, and Institutions Structure Access to Educational Deliberation." Educational Policy, v15: 474-490.

2001. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "A Shrinking Digital Divide? The Provision of Classroom Computers across Urban School Systems." Social Science Quarterly, v82: 765-778.

2001. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "Quality, Race, and the Urban Education Marketplace." Urban Affairs Review, v37: 249-266.

2000. David L. Leal and Frederick M. Hess. "The Effect of Party on Issue Emphasis in the 1994 House Elections." In David W. Brady, John F. Cogan, and Morris P. Fiorina (Eds.), Continuity and Change in House Elections. Stanford: Stanford University Press / Hoover Institution Press.

2000. David L. Leal and Frederick M. Hess. "The Politics of Bilingual Education Expenditures in Urban School Districts." Social Science Quarterly, v81: 1064-1072.

1999. David L. Leal and Frederick M. Hess. "Survey Bias on the Front Porch: Are All Subjects Interviewed Equally?" American Politics Quarterly, v27: 468-487.

1999. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "Computer-Assisted Learning in Urban Classrooms: The Impact of Politics, Race, and Class." Urban Education, v34: 370-388.

1999. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "Politics and Sex-Related Programs in Urban Schooling." Urban Affairs Review, v35: 24-43.

1999. "Congress and Charter Schools." In Robert Maranto, Scott Milliman, Frederick Hess, and April Gresham (Eds.), School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

1997. Frederick M. Hess and David L. Leal. "Minority Teachers, Minority Students, and College Matriculation: A New Look at the Role-Modeling Hypothesis." Policy Studies Journal, v25: 235-248.

1996. Michael Jones-Correa and David L. Leal. "Becoming ‘Hispanic’: Secondary Pan-Ethnic Identification among Latin American-Origin Populations in the United States." Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, v18: 214-254.


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