By their own reckoning, Latinos living in the United States do not have a national leader. When asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider "the most important Latino leader in the country today," nearly two-thirds (64%) of Hispanic respondents said they did not know. An additional 10% said "no one."
These findings emerge from the 2010 National Survey of Latinos, a bilingual national survey of 1,375 Hispanic adults conducted prior to this month's mid-term elections by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
The most frequently named individual was Sonia Sotomayor, appointed last year to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some 7% of respondents said she is the most important Latino leader in the country. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) of Chicago is next at 5%. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa draws 3%, and Jorge Ramos, an anchor on Noticiero Univision, the national evening news program on the Spanish-language television network Univision, drew 2%.
No one else was named by more than 1% of respondents in the 2010 National Survey of Latinos conducted August 17 through September 19, 2010, by landline and cellular telephone. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The survey explored the subject of leadership in the Latino community in another way. Respondents were presented with the names of eight prominent Latinos and asked if they had heard of each. Those who said they had were then asked if they considered that person to be a leader.
Of the eight names presented, just two were familiar to a majority of respondents: Sotomayor (67%) and Ramos (59%). Four others were known by more than a quarter of respondents: Villaraigosa (44%), Gutierrez (38%), New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (35%), and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta (28%). The other two were familiar to only a small share of respondents: U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) of Tucson, Arizona (13%), and Janet Murguía, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of La Raza (8%).
In the follow-up question, anywhere between one-third and two-thirds of respondents who had heard of each prominent Latino said that they considered that person to be a leader. The highest leadership "score" was received by Sotomayor. Among the 67% who said they had heard of her, some 68% said they consider her to be a leader—meaning that, when the questions are posed in this manner, a total of 45% of survey respondents (67% × 68%) consider her a leader. Ramos is next with a leadership score of 38%, followed by Villaraigosa at 29% and Gutierrez at 23%. No one else on the list had a score above 20%.