Political Animal


October 23, 2012 3:46 PM Missing Latinos—Again

By Ed Kilgore

Since we’re all doomed to be transfixed by polls for the next two weeks, it’s well worth paying attention to this protest from Latino Decisions’ Matt Baretto:

In 1998 Harry Pachon and Rudy de la Garza wrote a report for the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute titled “Why Pollsters Missed the Latino Vote - Again!” in which they argued that polls across California failed to accurately account for Latino voters in their samples, and that pre-election polls statewide were fraught with errors as a result. Pachon and de la Garza argued that “mainstream” pollsters failed to account for Latinos for three primary reasons: 1) their sample sizes of Latinos were far too small; 2) their Latinos samples were not representative of the Latino population within the state; and 3) they were not interviewing Latinos in Spanish at the correct proportions. THIS WAS 14 YEARS AGO (yes I am screaming).
In 2010 Gary Segura and I wrote that not much had changed and polls continued to mis-represent the Latino vote. It is now well-known that polls in Nevada had small, unrepresentative and biased samples of Latinos, leading them to entirely miss Harry Reid’s 5-point lead over Sharron Angle. Two weeks ago, Nate Silver wrote at 538 that some polls seem to be continuing the same mistakes and under-counting and mis-counting Latino voters, which he had originally picked up, and wrote about the day after the 2010 midterms. Around the same time some new polls started appearing in states like Nevada and Florida with bizarre data for Latino voters - Obama only had an 8 point lead among Nevada Latinos, and Romney was actually ahead among Latinos in Florida. Really?

Baretto goes on to skewer recently and heavily publicized national polls by Monmouth, GWU/Battleground and PPP for showing narrow Obama margins among Latinos that are totally out of line with repeated findings from ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions, NBC/Telemundo, the Pew Hispanic Center, and other outlets with a better record of measuring Latino public opinion. You’d think with all the talk about the importance of this vote in 2012, and the recognition of past struggles by pollsters in measuring it, there would be more talk about this problem. Maybe it will take another election cycle.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ronald on October 23, 2012 4:01 PM:

    Wait wait... you're asking the MSM to tell the truth? To do actual research? To have them show that this isn't a close neck and neck down to the wire omg you have to watch our coverage event?

    Really now...

    I am willing to bet that the Obama campaign hasn't taken those polls lightly, especially in places like Florida and even in the midwest as well where the Latino vote is only growing.

  • jjm on October 23, 2012 4:31 PM:

    Many polls now use Likely Voters to do their polling. And they get to define who Likely Voters are. And they 'know' that lazy Latinos don't vote, right? And that Democrats might not vote, and women might not, etc etc etc.

    So they always assume that "Likely Voters" are white male Republicans. End of story. Or so they think. This time, I think they have another think coming.

  • stormskies on October 23, 2012 4:33 PM:

    And let's remember that we have always been told in prior elections, and even the early part of this one, that Repiglican would always have to have at least 40% of the Hispanic vote to win the election.

    Remember ? Even Romney said this himself early on ..

    And now we here zero about this from the corporate media ?
    Why ?

    The answer should be obvious: it does not fit the current propaganda called narratives and story lines that the corporate props called pundits are peddling in order to deceive the voting public into believing shit that just isn't true ....

    These corporate props are actually criminals .. they know what they are doing is deception, and they do it anyway ...

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on October 23, 2012 4:42 PM:

    I'm hoping that this election will be a 21st century rendition of the infamous Literary Digest 1936 presidential election poll. This trend of suspect polling of political attitudes can't die soon enough.

  • catclub on October 23, 2012 5:39 PM:

    I hope, I hope, I hope that Arizona's latinos shock the nation by turning out.

  • JR on October 23, 2012 5:39 PM:

    Nothing will change until MSM recognizes anyone other than white, sub/ex-urban voters (especially females.) I'm a never-married, 54-year-old, childless urban woman who has zero delusions that the average politician (let alone political journalist) gives a damn about me. (In fact, if Romney wins, I'm royally screwed.)

  • Samuel Knight on October 23, 2012 6:13 PM:

    With only about 10% of people who answer pollsters calls this is going to be a real tough election to poll and predict. But the Latino angle is potentially huge. In both Colorado and Nevada 2010 Senate races the polls missed Democratic leads.

    Now it appears to be even higher split - it that's true the Democrats could be ahead in the both Colorado and Nevada now - as well as potentially Florida. Which would mean the the GOP really is in trouble in races for the White House, Senate and House.

    But those are huge IFs.

    If Gallup is correct the opposite is true- however, it seems much more likely that the pundits refuse to look at the evidence in front of them. And that yes, the Democrats are the ones close to blowing this election out - not the GOP.

  • grandpa john on October 23, 2012 6:45 PM:

    the infamous mason-dixon +7 Romney poll in Fl had women as even and Hispanics as +3 Romney, an excellent example of the push the narrative polls we are seeing in some of the swing states

  • tonyroma on October 23, 2012 9:33 PM:

    Anyone actually looking at the conflicting data revealed in the article could only come to the conclusion the very polls giving Democrats so much angst are so woefully under-representing Latinos it could be as much as a 4% swing in Florida from what the polls are saying today.

    I don't think for a second the Obama team isn't aware of this discrepancy and is simply focused on driving as many voters as possible to the polls for the sake of pocketing a "mandate" type of victory that the right will find impossible to deny. Here's hoping I'm right.

  • Anonymous on October 24, 2012 1:34 PM:

    I'm with tonyroma on this one. Would like to add, any woman who has not been brainwashed would have to be nuts to vote for Romney Ryan or any repub.You would be giving them an Ok to overturn Roe v Wade.

  • Kik on October 25, 2012 6:26 AM:

    Yes the hispanic vote is not being taking into consideration, the polls are very deciving and it seems that truth to this can be found in the padt election. the hispanic vote may very well determine the winner, again. Without the people even knowing.