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Are Latino Voters Going to Turn Out at Higher Levels than Expected?

America's Voice | Released on 10/22/2012

Latino Decisions Finds High Latino Voter Enthusiasm & Offers Important Methodological Point Re Latino Polling

Campaigns and political observers are in agreement that Latino voters’ behavior will be one of the key factors in deciding who wins the presidential race.  As we have pointed out, Latino voters’ influence will hinge on both margin (head-to-head polling) and mobilization (eventual turnout).  While margin has remained relatively static in the presidential matchup, with President Obama enjoying a massive lead of 71%-20% in a new weekly tracking poll of Latino voters, the same analysis from impreMedia/Latino Decisions also finds that enthusiasm among Latino voters may be higher than conventional wisdom suggests.

As Latino Decisions writes, “More than three-fourths of all respondents said they have talked with friends or family members about candidates, issues or other election topics in the last few months and 45% have actively tried to persuade friends or family on their election decision.  According to the 2008 American National Election study, 45% of all voters said they tried to influence how others voters, suggesting on this measure Latinos are as engaged in 2012 as all voters were in 2008.  When asked if they had tried to help people register or volunteered for any campaign or voter outreach effort 14% of all Latino voters said yes.  In 2008 the ANES found 4% of all voters had worked on a campaign, 13% gave money to a campaign, and 9% attended a political meeting.  Those who said they were very enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming elections climbed from 51% last week to 56% this.”

Latino Decisions also makes a critical point about Latino voter methodology: “a very important footnote to the national polls – if they are not accurately polling and counting Latino voters which will comprise 10% of all voters, they may be overstating Romney’s numbers by 2 or 3 points.”

This important methodological point echoes that of Nate Silver of the New York Times’s FiveThirtyEight blog, who wrote earlier this month in a sub-post entitled, “Are Polls Underestimating Obama’s Hispanic Vote?” that, “In the past couple of elections, polls have underestimated Democrats’ standing in states with heavy Hispanic populations. (The two senate races that the FiveThirtyEight forecast called incorrectly in 2010 — Nevada and Colorado — are both states with a healthy number of Hispanic voters.)  This may be because many polling firms that conduct interviews only in English miss some Hispanic voters who are more comfortable speaking Spanish.”

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