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Unity Versus Uniformity: Effects of Targeted Advertising on Perceptions of Group Politics

While a great deal of attention has been paid to how political media can divide and polarize politicized groups in the U.S., little is understood about its effects within those groups. In this study, I use a population based survey experiment to explore whether targeted political media are affecting two factors associated with political voice – perceptions of political homogeneity and perceptions of political power. Drawing on theories from social psychology, I outline and test a set of theoretical predictions to explore this relationship in the context of Spanish-language political ads. The results suggest that Spanish-language political ads do, in fact, increase perceptions of collective political power among Latinos, but not in a way that unequivocally promote perceptions of political homogeneity. In doing so, the findings provide some of the first evidence of a causal relationship between targeted political media and perceptions of targeted political groups.