Latino Vote 2016

Why getting Latino voter exit polling right matters

Having an accurate sense of what actually transpired on Election Day will be essential for good post-election analysis and assessment of what the election results will mean for American politics and policy. Yet when it comes to Latino voters, the national exit polls—and many polls throughout the election cycle—remain consistently off-the-mark.

Interactive tool: Latino Decisions analyzes 2016 Hispanic voter turnout

On October 17, 2016, NCLR held a phone briefing with reporters and thought leaders on this topic. The event featured detailed presentations from Gabriel Sanchez, a principal at polling firm Latino Decisions; commentary and analysis from political scientist and election forecaster Alan Abramowitz; and Michael Frias and Jonathan Robinson of the data firm Catalist. Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President at NCLR, moderated the proceedings, which you can hear in full below.

Quick takeaways

  • Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro noted that inaccuracies and sampling challenges in national polls, and specifically in exit polls, can give an inaccurate picture of how Latinos vote and why. This reality led NCLR in 2006 to develop a program of Latino election-eve polling of highly likely Latino voters. Conducted by Latino Decisions, the poll is now a multi-state survey that provides more accurate and detailed information on Latino voters.
    See the full presentation
  • Gabriel Sanchez of Latino Decisions said their analysis showed that Latino voters most often “missing” from polls with problematic methodology are those most likely to be Democrats, i.e. naturalized immigrants, persons who are Spanish-dominant or on a lower socioeconomic status, and younger Hispanics.
    See the full presentation
  • Alan Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University, mentioned the recurring problems he's seen in polls of Latinos during the current election cycle. These include underestimates of the likely Latino share of the electorate and a lack of transparency about the methodology in Latino-specific samples. He also explained how these problems need to be addressed to avoid giving a misleading impression of the way Latino voters are reacting to the message of one candidate over the other.
    See the full presentation
  • Michael Frias and Jonathan Robinson of Catalist described how their work has led them to predict that Latinos will indeed make a big diffrence in this election and beyond 2016, describing how first-time voter registrations among Latinos are higher in percentage terms than they have seen in 2008 or 2012.
    See the full presentation