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 9 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 theAmerican Political Science Review, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, and other peer reviewed journals. He teaches courses on approaches to research, research methodology, and Latino politics in the Chicano Studies department for Ph.D. students as well as undergraduates.
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 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 and he has testified many times in court about racially polarized voting in a variety of cases. 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 put on hold. Barreto and Sanchez also providedan 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. Most recently 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 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.
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, Matt (with Prof. Karam Dana) implemented a large national survey of Muslim Americans, and are studying the influence of religiosity on political incorporation of American Muslims. In 2010 Barreto and Seagura implemented the first ever weekly tracking poll of Latino voters during the 2010 election, which Latino Decisions continued during the 2012 presidential eleciton. Through his work with Latino Decisions, he has also overseen large multi-state election eve polls, battleground tracking polls, extensive message testing research and countless focus groups. Barreto 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.
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.