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Why the Dispute over Latino Exit Poll Matters: Latinos Delivered in 2016 and One Exit Poll that Shows Otherwise Effectively Disenfranchises a Community at Risk

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As we have noted, the controversy over accurate Latino polling is not a mere academic exercise or a story simply about methodology. At a time when the Latino and immigrant communities are vulnerable and fearful in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, an accurate assessment of the community’s preferences in the 2016 elections and its electoral power is of huge consequence. Selling the Latino vote short, as the national exit polls do, essentially diminishes – even disenfranchises – Latino voters at a moment of maximum peril.

For those looking for a brief primer, America’s Voice Deputy Director Lynn Tramonte has published a succinct overview, “Latino vote share in 2016: How a myth becomes a “fact.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “It is not hard to understand why so many are so angry over an exit poll that says Latinos voted in greater numbers for Trump than Romney,” said Frank Sharry.”For over a year, Trump belittled, disparaged and dehumanized millions of Latino American citizens and noncitizens. To think that after a year of humiliation that same group would do anything but reject Trump by historic margins defies political gravity and common sense. Trump lost Latino votes by 79-18. The bogus exit poll number effectively disenfranchises millions of Latino voters and relegates their votes to the dustbin of history.”

Here are some additional voices addressing this important topic:

In the Washington PostPaul Waldman writes, “Why the exit polls are wrong on Latino votes”:

“Of all the surprising things about the presidential race, few were as shocking as the exit poll‘s finding that Donald Trump lost to Hillary Clinton among Latino voters by a margin of only 65-29 percent, which was actually better than Mitt Romney did four years ago. How is that possible? After all, we’re at the end of a period in which Republicans competed among themselves to see who could be the most hostile to immigrants and promise the harshest crackdown. And then they nominated a presidential candidate who opened his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, promised to build a wall on our southern border and engaged in a nakedly racist attack against the Latino judge presiding over his fraud trial. How could nearly a third of Latinos have voted for him?

The answer is: They didn’t. On this point, the exit polls are just wrong”

See the accompanying interview with Gary Segura and Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions for fresh details on the real story of Latinos in the 2016 cycle and additional details on why the exit polls are off the mark regarding Latinos.

Waldman concludes by saying:

“I’ll put off a discussion about what this all means for future elections for another day, but let’s just say that the Trump administration isn’t wasting any time trying to further alienate the Latino electorate. For now, though, it looks as though Hillary Clinton, for whatever other ways she might have failed, accomplished what she needed to with the Latino electorate. It just wasn’t enough to give her the White House.”

Kerry Eleveld writes at Daily Kos, “Exit polls got Latino vote wrong again: 29 percent of Latinos did not vote for Donald Trump”:

“As Nate Silver noted, Hillary Clinton may have underperformed pre-election mainstream polls in the Midwest, but she over-performed those polls in states with a heavy concentration of Latino voters like California and New Mexico.

Why does all this matter? Partly because it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore a constituency that likely played a large role in ensuring that Hillary Clinton soundly captured the popular vote. Latino Decisions’ election eve poll of 5,600 votersshowed Clinton getting fully 79 percent of the Latino vote to Trump’s 18 percent. And partly because not accurately counting Latinos disenfranchised voters who voted like their lives depended on it.”

And in Politico, Sergio Bustos highlights, “Debate rages among pollsters over Trump’s support among Hispanic voters”:

“Call it a tale of two polls of the nation’s Hispanic voters. In the week following the 2016 presidential election, the margin of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s advantage over Republican Donald Trump among Hispanic voters has been a source of debate between those conducting the national exit polls for major media and network television outlets and the widely respected Latino Decisions, a pollster specializing in surveying the nation’s growing Hispanic population.

… America’s Voice, a liberal immigrant advocacy group that partnered with Latino Decisions on polling of Hispanics during the presidential election campaign, argues that the national exit polls “missed” Latino voters. “The bottom line is that the national exit polls, once again, got it wrong when it comes to Latino voters,” America’s Voice argues. “Selling the Latino vote short, as the national exit polls do, essentially diminishes — even disenfranchises — Latino voters at a moment of maximum peril.”