Do polls underestimate the Democratic Party's Latino vote?

Do polls underestimate the Democratic Party's Latino vote?

Mainstream polls use small, unrepresentative samples of Latino voters that tend to underestimate poorer, less educated Latino voters, making them unreliable and more biased in favor of Republican candidates.

Promo encuesta

Hillary Clinton may be popular among Latino voters, but Democrats have expressed concern for months about a traditionally poor Hispanic turn out hurting her chances of election.

However, some Latino pollsters say an overlooked factor in mainstream polling data could produce a welcome surprise for Democrats on November 8, especially in several states with large Hispanic populations, such as Florida and Texas.

"In many states with large Latino populations, polls underestimated the Democratic advantage," according to Gabriel Sanchez, a political scientist at the University of New Mexico who is one of the principals at the polling firm Latino Decisions.

That's because the national polls aren’t really focused on the Latino voters, and only have a small sample of Latinos, resulting in a larger margin of error, he explained.

When a sample is only 100 to 200 voters, the margin of error can leap between 10-14 percent. Most polls tend to sample at least 1,000-1,500 voters, with a margin of error of only 3 to 4 percent.

The polls also target the “wrong Latinos,” making their sample unrepresentative of eligible voters, said Sanchez. By not offering interviews in Spanish and relying on interviews via internet and fixed home phone lines, they end up with a biased sample of more assimilated, native-born, higher income and higher educated voters, according to internal poll research conducted by Latino Decisions.

First-generation Hispanics speak less English, rely more on cellphones and often don’t have internet, he noted.


Latino Decisions, some of whose team are working for the Clinton team, did a webinar earlier this month in an effort to alert the media to two key mistakes it has detected in polling. The webinar was conducted by Sanchez, who is not working for the Clinton campaign.

It cited statistical analysis this year by David Damore, a researcher at Latino Decisions, who found “clear evidence” that Latino respondents who appear in mainstream national polls are statistically more likely to be Republicans.

Eduardo Gamarra, a Miami pollster focusing on the Latino vote, agrees and blames the faulty methodology on cost. “It is too expensive to draw large Latino samples if you also are trying to grasp the national market,” he said.

More targeted Hispanic polling conducted for media outlets such as Univision and Telemundo has consistently found stronger support for Clinton than the mainstream national polls.


For example, a recent Bloomberg poll that showed Trump leading Clinton by two points in Florida found the Democratic candidate had only 51 percent of the Sunshine State’s Hispanic vote. The survey of 953 registered voters included only 148 Hispanics.

That contrasted sharply with a poll this week conducted by Gamarra and Adsmovil for New Latino Voice which found Clinton leading among Florida Hispanics 64.4 percent to 26.1 percent for Trump. Her lead was even greater nationally, 75.7 percent to 16.1 percent.

A Univision poll of Hispanics found Clinton leading Trump by 30 points (58-28 percent) in Florida in early October. That survey consulted 400 voters with a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Encuesta de Univision de hispanos indica que Clinton amplía su ventaja s...
Encuesta de Univision de hispanos indica que Clinton amplía su ventaja sobre Trump en Florida y Colorado. Univision

Hispanic pollster Fernand Amandi pointed to a recent Nevada survey by Marist Poll for NBC and the Wall Street Journal that had Clinton and Trump tied 43-43. A poll by Amandi's firm, Bendixen & Amandi International, had Clinton leading by 7 percent, 48-41.

"It’s not necessarily about faulty methodology. It’s more about general challenges associated with reaching the entire Latino community," said Geoffrey Skelley, at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

"An obvious problem for some pollsters is the lack of interviewers who speak Spanish. That’s an additional cost that many may not be able to afford. And this language problem could also pop up if a pollster is using internet panels because they may not offer questions in Spanish," he said.

Such polling errors may not have been a big deal a few decades ago, but the rapid growth of the Latino population has made measuring it accurately much more significant nationally. "In states where a sizable number of Hispanic voters will cast ballots (i.e. Colorado, Florida, Nevada), a large underestimation of Latino support for Clinton could throw an entire poll’s topline result off," said Skelley.

In Florida, Clinton could have a larger lead than most polls show. In Texas, Trump's shrinking lead could be even thinner.

Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion recognized that Latino polling lacks precision. In the case of Nevada he noted the sample was more male and more Republican than he would have liked. He noted that the sub-sample of Latinos had an 8-9 percent margin of error, while the overall poll of 985 voters had a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Unlike some polls, Miringoff said Marist did use live operators to make bilingual phone calls, and also included cellphones in the survey. Even so, the results could be misleading due to the small sample, he conceded.

He expected future polling to improve as the Latino population grows requiring larger samples.


Latino Decisions began analyzing polling methodology after the 2010 elections when they noted a sharp discord between pre-election polling, exit polls and the real results. When they examined the methodology, they found “dead giveaways,” he said, including weak sampling of Latinos and methods of selecting respondents.

In 2010, more than a dozen pre-election polls showed Sharon Angle led incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid by 3 percent. But Reid ended up winning comfortably by almost 6 percent. Similarly, in Colorado, pre-election polls showed incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet trailing Republican Ken Buck, yet he won by almost 2 percent.

In Nevada, Latino decisions found that most polls had only small Latino samples and woefully underestimated Reid’s support among Hispanic voters by as much as 20 to 35 points.


Post-election analysis at the time by Nate Silver at polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight showed that many states with large Latino populations polls underestimated the Democratic advantage.

Silver found that Democrats outperformed their polls by 2.3 points in 15 races in the eight states with the largest share of Latinos in their population: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas.

While Silver did not reach a firm conclusion about possibly inadequate sampling of Latino voters, he detected “the beginnings of a pattern.”

Considering how rapidly the Latino population is growing, he added it was a pattern “that pollsters are going to need to address in states like Nevada, California and Texas if we’re going to be able to take their results at face value.”

Latino Decisions found similar issues in the 2012 presidential election. In late October the respected Monmouth University poll had Republican Mitt Romney ahead nationally by 3.5 percent, with Obama leading among Hispanics by only 6 percent.

By contrast, most Hispanic pollsters, including Univision and NBC-Telemundo, had Obama with a commanding 48 percent lead among Latinos, giving him a 1.5 percent edge nationally.

Latino Decisions encontró que las encuestas convencionales subestimaron...
Latino Decisions encontró que las encuestas convencionales subestimaron enormemente el apoyo latino a Obama hasta en 20 puntos porcentuales. Univision/Latino Decisions

Obama would go on to win the election 3.9 percent, a margin of 5 million votes.

"We are seeing the same thing with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton," said Sanchez.

On November 15, days before the allegations of sexual harassment against Charlie Rose came to light, the CNN International host issued a public call to editors and executives to end the abuse and sexual harassment in the media. That evening, Rose, who is being replaced by Amanpour on an interim basis, was sitting only a few feet away as she spoke.
The Colombian soldier Mauricio Calvo shares his experience as part of a burgeoning industry of men who travel the world to fight in other people's wars.
Angela King went from being a Neonazi skinhead to working to lure people out of hate groups. Today, King says she’s worried about what she sees as an increase of hate and a U.S. president who refuses to publicly denounce it. She has a unique insight into the most effective ways to respond to incidences of hate and extremism, and why people are in the life in the first place.
Through tears, Joaquín Ramírez recalls the minutes after a gunman entered a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and fired at everyone in his path.
When Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippines’ president in June 2016, he declared a war on drug traffickers and users. Since then, Human Rights groups estimate more than 12,000 people have been killed in this offensive they call "a war on the poor." Univision News traveled to Manila and witnessed this conflict first hand.
They grew up in Chicago and their husbands, the Flores twins (aka ‘Los Mellizos’), worked for the Sinaloa cartel. The twins later became DEA informants in Mexico who helped bring down El Chapo Guzman. They have written a book, Cartel Wives, telling their story as a lesson to others not to fall for the narco life, and they regret what they put their families through. "Our fathers put on their suit of armor and their badge, and they are going out there on the streets of Chicago,” Mia confesses. “It’s the very same streets that our husbands were flooding with drugs.”
Patients with chronic diseases are getting limited treatment in health centers and are still waiting for restoration of power and water supply. Univision News visited several hospitals.
The 1998 hurricane killed 11,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua and left more than a million homeless. As a result, the United States granted temporary visas to citizens from those countries who were living illegally in the U.S.
The weather station in Key West, Florida, is sending weather balloons into the atmosphere to measure the powerful category 5 hurricane, which currently has winds of 175 miles per hour.
The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the DACA program that President Barack Obama introduced to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. Sessions said the program would be phased out over six months to allow Congress time to have another go at passing legislation.
Two brothers graduated from Harvard and Middlebury. They grew up in Houston and are practicing Christians. "Like "good Americans," they like Taco Bell. They have lived most of their lives in the United States and have a simple request for the president: "Do not get rid of DACA."
During a meeting in the Oval office Friday, the president was asked by reporters about the future of DACA, to which he responded that a decision was coming soon. "We love the dreamers, we love everyone," he added.
Nilsa Huete is an undocumented Honduran immigrant living in Key West, Florida. In the last five months, five of her family members have been arrested by agents from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Now she’s fighting against the deportation of her daughter and brother.
The Univision News anchor sat down with Chris Barker, leader of the "Loyal White Knights," a branch of the Ku Klux Klan. The interview was part of the special that aired Sunday on Aqui y Ahora.
A crowd surrounds a young man in a Trump hat and t-shirt, and draped in an Israeli flag, on Boston Common.
Jorge Ramos spoke with the musician's lawyer after he was detained by the Nicolas Maduro regime. The attorney said Arteaga had been "tortured". The Univision reporter asks: #FreedomforWuilly
Exceso de sudor: a qué se debe y cómo controlarlo de una vez por todas
La hiperhidrosis –o sudoración excesiva– es una condición médica en la cual las glándulas sudoríparas secretan más agua de lo común. ¿Pero cómo se puede controlar? La dermatóloga Mercedes González tiene la respuesta.
Bomberos no descansan para acabar con las infernales llamas que continúan en el sur de California
Alrededor de 9,000 bomberos luchan para apagar las llamas. Muchos de ellos se han visto obligados a cancelar sus vacaciones de fin de año.
DAEnUnMinuto: Amanecimos con un póker de reinas, y una de ellas fue nuestra modelo de los deportes
Además: A Alan se le hizo agua la boca con un sushi estilo Sinaloa, Karla todavía siente mariposas en el estómago en su matrimonio, y Ana Patricia ya comenzó a celebrar el 'maratón Guadalupe-Reyes'. Síguenos en #DAEnUnMinuto.
Amenaza de muerte y sexo oral: Salma Hayek asegura que también fue víctima de Harvey Weinstein
La actriz mexicana rompió su silencio respecto a su relación con el desprestigiado productor de Hollywood quien, según sus palabras, trató durante la producción de la película 'Frida' de mantener relaciones sexuales con ella.
Gobernador Scott emite una orden ejecutiva para proteger a los empleados estatales del acoso sexual
En los últimos siete años, Florida ha pagado más de 400,000 dólares a víctimas que presentaron denuncias de acoso sexual después de que Rick Scott asumió el cargo en 2011.
Los famosos y sus carros en 2017
El Papa Francisco, John Cena, Luis Fonsi y Nicky Jam, son algunas de las celebridades que fueron noticia gracias a sus autos.
Exclusiva: “Gilberto va a poder con esto”, Maite Delgado sobre el Parkinson que sufre su excompañero de animación
La animadora venezolana conversó con Univision Entretenimiento sobre la reciente revelación hecha por su compañero de muchos años en la TV venezolana, Gilberto Correa. Maite se mostró preocupada por su amigo y la gente que padece Parkinson en Venezuela por la escasez de medicamentos y crisis asistencial que atraviesa el país.
América haría un cambio con Xolos: Pablo Aguilar por Víctor Emanuel Aguilera
El segundo defensa más goleador en la historia de las Águilas, después de Alfredo Tena, se iría a Tijuana para el Clausura 2018. Y el trueque sería por el zaguero argentino que juega en la 'Perrera' desde el 2016.
Miguel Samudio deja al América para reforzar a Gallos
El lateral paraguayo es una de las nuevas apuestas del cuadro de Querétaro; llega en compra definitiva.
El Milan jugará el derbi ante Inter en cuartos de la Copa Italiana
El cuadro Rossoneri derrotó 3-0 al Hellas Verona para lograr su pase a la siguiente fase.
¿La Bomba del Draft? Edson Puch jugará en Gallos Blancos del Querétaro
El cuadro queretano peleará con todo para quedarse en Primera División; el chileno deja a Pachuca y jugará en su tercer club en Liga MX.