In a Jan. 3 guest commentary ("Pew research on Hispanic leaders is wrongheaded"), José de la Isla criticized a recent report about national Latino leaders from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. While we welcome a robust discussion of our findings, we would like to correct errors of fact and omission in the commentary.
First, some background: In a nationwide public opinion survey we conducted in the late summer of 2010, the Center asked Latinos whom they considered to be the most important Latino leader in the country today. This question is not new. It has been asked by public opinion researchers many times before of many other groups. For example, as recently as this fall, our colleagues at the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked a similar question about Republican Party leadership and found that nearly half of Republicans (45 percent) said they did not know who the leader of the Republican party is, while an additional 13 percent said "nobody leads the party." In a 2006 AP-AOL survey of African Americans, 33 percent could not name a leader or said "no one." In our bilingual 2010 survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,375 Latino adults, 64 percent said they did not know who is the most important national leader and an additional 10 percent said "no one."
De la Isla incorrectly stated that it was a "Pew research presumption" that Hispanics are aggrieved. Our report made no such assertion or presumption. We did report a finding from this same survey which showed that 61 percent of Hispanics say discrimination against Hispanics is a major problem preventing them from succeeding in the U.S. today - up from 47 percent who felt this way in 2002.
De la Isla also incorrectly stated that our report argued that Hispanics "need to fill the missing leader vacuum." We made no such statement or assertion. Indeed, the Pew Hispanic Center does not issue recommendations in any of its reports. Our mission today is the same as it was at the time of the Center's inception in 2001: To provide nonpartisan, non-advocacy research that improves understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation.
Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director
Pew Hispanic Center