Soto, Victoria Maria De Francesco | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
Education
  • Ph.D. in Political Science, Duke University
  • M.A. in Political Science, Duke University
  • B.A. in Political Science & Latin American Studies, University of Arizona
  • Political Psychology Summer Institute, Stanford University
  • ICPSR Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research, University of Michigan
Research Areas
  • Campaigns & Elections
  • Immigration
  • Women & Politics
Teaching Areas
  • Social Policy

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto is assistant dean for civic engagement and a lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, where she was selected as one of UT's Game Changers. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Department of Mexican-American and Latino Studies and the Center for Mexican American Studies. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University, during which time she was a National Science Foundation Fellow. Named one of the top 12 scholars in the country by Diverse magazine, she previously taught at Northwestern University and Rutgers.

In her research and teaching, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto brings an interdisciplinary lens to the understanding of American politics and policy. Her areas of expertise include immigration, women and politics, political psychology and campaigns and elections.

She is a contributor to MSNBC and NBCNews.com, as well as a regular political analyst for Telemundo. She has provided on-air analysis for CNN, Fox, PBS, Univision and NPR, and has appeared on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher." Most recently, she was a featured expert in the PBS documentary "Willie Velasquez: Your Vote is Your Voice," about the civil rights trailblazer. Dr. DeFrancesco Soto also has been published in both academic and popular outlets such as POLITICO, Talking Points Memo and Perspectives on Politics, where she has translated social science research into a more relatable form of information for a wide variety of audiences.

Media Expertise
  • Latino Public Policy
  • State & National Campaign Politics
  • Immigration
  • Women in Politics

Newsworthy

July 17, 2020
U.S. Election Security in the Shadow of COVID-19

Elections are regarded as a reflection of the strength and qualities of a country's democracy. The 2016 election revealed deep flaws in the U.S. voting process. Election security was a national security concern in 2020 even before the global COVID-19 pandemic put the logistics of an election into question. What is the status of the critical infrastructure that underpins fair and open voting? Can we ensure a voting process that upholds confidence in American democracy? LaShawn Warren, EVP of government affairs at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, joined Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, and LBJ's Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.

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July 1, 2020
American While Black — Reaching the Policy Tipping Point

Dr. Niambi Carter, associate professor at Howard University, joined us to talk about institutional racism in this country both historically and today. Her recent book, "American While Black: African Americans, Immigration, and the Limits of Citizenship," is a timely analysis of how racial black identity, American heritage and notions of citizenship shape our contemporary political and policy landscape. In this moderated conversation with the LBJ School's Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, she discussed how public policies such as the "war on drugs" have entrenched inequitable systems and what policy change is necessary for Black Americans to not just survive but thrive in the United States.

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Media MentionJune 22, 2020
Latino voters worried about climate change could swing 2020 election

Latinos consistently vote in smaller numbers than other groups. The reasons are varied. Latinos often face structural barriers, like onerous voter ID laws or long lines at polling places. Many are immigrants or the children of immigrants and have never voted nor seen their parents vote. The biggest factor, however, may be that politicians are failing to reach Latinos or failing to speak to issues Latinos care about, said Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, assistant dean for civic engagement at the University of Texas.

"There is a need to attack apathy," she said. "While structural barriers do have an impact, the problem is apathy and figuring out what policies connect most to people." Consistently, Latinos say they want policies that address climate change.

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