Matt A. Barreto is Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o & Central American Studies at UCLA and the co-founder of the research and polling firm BSP Research. At UCLA, Barreto founded the research center, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) and the UCLA Voting Rights Project (VRP). He previously co-founded the research firm Latino Decisions. Time Magazine called Barreto's work the “gold-standard in Latino American polling." Barreto’s research was recognized in the 30 Latinos key to the 2012 election by Politic365, listed in the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2012 by the European Politics Magazine LSDP, and was named one of the top 15 leading Latino pundits by Huffington Post which said Barreto was “the pollster that has his finger on the pulse of the Latino electorate.” In 2020 Barreto was hired by the Joe Biden presidential campaign to direct polling and focus group research for Latino voters. In the prior cycle, Barreto conducted polling and focus groups for the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. That same year, he also directed Latino outreach research for the U.S. Senate campaigns of Catherine Cortez-Masto (NV) and Michael Bennet (CO). Barreto is currently a senior advisor to Building Back Together.
In 2018 Barreto was one of the earliest consultants hired by the DCCC as part of their year-of-engagement plan which conducted extensive research and messaging strategy to understand the best ways to communicate and engage with Latino voters across dozens of competitive battleground districts. In a 2018 post-election article, the New York Times wrote that Barreto “conducted nationwide focus groups to better identify the needs of Latino voters and to tailor a proper message.” And NBC News added “For the election, several Democratic political fundraising committees commissioned the polling firm Latino Decisions to conduct polling and focus groups and try out some messaging of Latinos. According to DCCC chair, then-Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, “Latinos showed up to the polls because we talked to them, we listened to them, our candidates connected with their personal stories, we knocked on their doors we reached out online.”
|Barreto also directed research for groups such as Priorities USA, House Majority PAC, and CHC BOLD PAC in 2018 to understand Latinos views in the midterm, challenges and opportunities to mobilizing the Latino vote and message testing. In 2010 Barreto implemented the first ever weekly tracking poll of Latino voters during the 2010 election, which continued every election year through 2020. Working closely with Gary Segura, he has also overseen large multi-state election eve polls, battleground tracking polls, extensive message testing research and countless focus groups. He has been invited to brief the U.S. Senate, the White House, Congressional Committees, and has been a keynote speaker at many of the major Hispanic association conferences including NALEO, LULAC, CHCI, NCLR and others.
He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine in 2005, and had been on the faculty at the University of Washington for 10 years before joining UCLA in 2015.
His research examines the political participation of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and his work has been published in the American Political Science Review, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, among many other peer reviewed journals. He has published 57 academic articles and book chapters on the topics of race, ethnicity and politics and his work has received over 2,250 citations according to Google Scholar
He is the author of the book, Ethnic Cues: The role of shared ethnicity in Latino political behavior published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010. In 2013 Barreto co-authored a book with Christopher Parker, Change They Can't Believe In: the Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America, with Princeton University Press, which was awarded the American Political Science Association Best Book Ward for Race, Ethnicity Politics in 2014. In 2014 he co-authored the book Latino America: How America's Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation with Gary Segura, which was featured on MSNBC's Morning Joe and NPR's The Brian Lehrer Show in 2014.
In addition to his research on Latino voting patterns, Prof. Barreto has conducted extensive research on voting rights, and has been an expert witness in numerous Voting Rights Act lawsuits. In 2018, he co-founded the UCLA Voting Rights Project, with attorney Chad Dunn, which is one of the premier national institutes that focuses on legal training and expert research on voting rights, with courses in the Law School, School of Public Affairs, and Social Sciences. In 2019 Barreto was a key expert witness in three federal lawsuits challenging the U.S. Census Bureau inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census, providing testimony in three federal trials and assisting the New York and California Attorneys General in blocking the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the Census. He also served as an expert witness in the 2012 Pennsylvania voter identification lawsuit Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where his research with Prof. Gabriel Sanchez proved crucial to the voter ID law being blocked. Barreto and Sanchez also provided an expert report in a lawsuit challenging the impact of the Wisconsin voter ID law on minority voters, and in 2012 the Wisconsin law was also put on hold. In 2014 Barreto and Sanchez teamed up again to provide an expert report and testify in Veasey v. Perry in a challenge to the Texas voter ID law, and a Federal Court struck down the Texas ID law as unconstitutional, in part basing her decision on the evidence presented by Barreto and Sanchez. In 2016-17, Barreto and Sanchez implemented research and an expert report challenging the voter ID law in North Dakota finding the law would prevent thousands of Native Americans from casting a ballot. A Federal Court blocked the North Dakota ID law twice. Most recently, they offered an expert report challenging the voter ID law in North Carolina which a federal court struck down in December 2019.
In 2011, Prof. Barreto was retained as the lead expert consultant for the State of California’s Citizen Redistricting Commission, and was specifically asked to advise the Commission on Section 2 and Section 5 of the Federal Voting Rights Act and conduct research on polarized voting and vote dilution. In 2012, he was qualified as an expert witness in Rodriguez v. Harris County, a Section 2 voting rights lawsuit regarding County Commission redistricting, where he provided a report and testimony on vote dilution and racially polarized voting with respect to Latino candidates. Barreto has testified dozens of times in federal and state court about vote dilution and racially polarized voting in a variety of cases. In 2020 Barreto worked with Prof. Loren Collingwood to provide expert research on vote dilution in East Ramapo Central School District. In the lawsuit they used their eiCompare software package to implement surname matching and geocoding of the voter rolls, called Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding (BISG), to more accurately identify the racial/ethnic demographics of voters. Ultimately the court ruled that Barreto and Collingwood had correctly applied BISG and more precisely estimated vote dilution, ruling in favor of the NAACP and NYCLU plaintiffs. It was the first ever application of BISG in a voting rights trial, a technique that had previously been widely used in published social science. He continues to actively research voting rights in Black, Latino, Asian American and immigrant communities.
Prof. Barreto research focuses on minority and immigrant voting behavior, and teaches courses in the departments of Political Science and Chicana/o Stuides on Racial and Ethnic Politics, Latino Politics, Immigration Politics, the Voting Rights Act, Elections, Research Methods, and American Politics. Part of his research agenda also includes public opinion and election surveys, including exit polling methodology and pre-election polls. In addition to his work on the Hispanic/Latino population, Barreto partnered with Prof. Karam Dana to implement a large national survey of Muslim Americans, and are studying the influence of religiosity on political incorporation of American Muslims.
Prof. Barreto has been an active member of the Politics of Race, Immigration and Ethnicity Consortium hosted by UC Riverside, and an affiliated research scholar with the Center for the Study of Los Angeles (www.lmu.edu/csla). In 2008, Barreto was a co-principal investigator (with Gary Segura) of the American National Election Study Latino oversample, which included the first ever Spanish language translation of the ANES and the first ever oversample of Latino voters. In 2009, he was appointed to the ANES Board of Overseers.
Matt is married to Julie Straub-Barreto and has two children, Daniel and Clara.