Politico “Analysis” on Latino Voters Sees Heavy Pushback from Serious Pollsters

by Van Le on 04/23/2013 at 6:06pm

Pinging around the blogosphere today has been a Politico article claiming that immigration reform could be a “bonanza” for Democrats, considering that reform could eventually lead to more Hispanic voters, who voted Democratic by a 3-1 margin in the last election.  As the article breathlessly wrote about current undocumented immigrants (right before they noted that the exercise was “inherently speculative”):

If these people had been on the voting rolls in 2012 and voted along the same lines as other Hispanic voters did last fall, President Barack Obama’s relatively narrow victory last fall would have been considerably wider, a POLITICO analysis showed.

Key swing states that Obama fought tooth and nail to win — like Florida, Colorado and Nevada — would have been comfortably in his column. And the president would have come very close to winning Arizona.

Republican Mitt Romney, by contrast, would have lost the national popular vote by 7 percentage points, 53 percent to 46 percent, instead of the 4-point margin he lost by in 2012, and would have struggled even to stay competitive in GOP strongholds like Texas, which he won with 57 percent of the vote.

It might be Rush Limbaugh’s greatest nightmare, but the analysis was rooted in false and superficial assumptions, which quickly led serious pollsters to push back.  Nate Silver, the polling guru at New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, was nearly apoplectic about the flaws in Politico’s methodology, tweeting:



Nate Cohn, another prominent polling reporter at the New Republic, further called the Politico analysis “ludicrous” and wrote, “In effect, this ‘analysis’ assumes that every undocumented worker will become a citizen, and that every new citizen will vote in the 2028 election.”  He also noted that Politico didn’t take overall population growth into account, which would dilute the impact of Latino and immigrant population growth.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s office also responded with an addition to their “Myths vs. Facts” on immigration website section, noting that “FACT: Not all 11 million illegal immigrants here today will qualify to become citizens, and not all of the 11 million illegal immigrants are Hispanic.”

As polling from Latino Decisions frequently points out, Republicans don’t have to win Latino voters to do better electorally, they just have to win a larger percentage than they are right now.  According to recent polling, 44% of Latinos would consider voting for a Republican if the GOP was more supportive of immigration reform.  If Republicans could just boost their Latino vote support to 42% nationwide–around the percentage George W. Bush won in 2004–six states would flip from Democrat to Republican.  If, on the other hand, Republicans choose to do nothing, or choose to kill immigration reform, eventually the Latino vote in Republican-strong states like Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina will eventually grow to haunt them.

As Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum wrote this week about the Latino vote question, Republicans are currently in such doldrums with Latino voters that supporting immigration reform is a “no-lose proposition” for the GOP.  “If depriving Democrats of immigration reform as an issue hurts them,” Drum said, “Republicans could make significant gains.”

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