Many pundits have been trumpeting President Bush’s success among Hispanics as one of the keys to his victory last week. Dick Morris, for example, wrote in the New York Post:
GEORGE W. Bush was re-elected on Tuesday because the Hispanic vote, long a Democratic Party preserve, shifted toward the president’s side. The USA Today exit poll shows Hispanics, who had voted for Al Gore by 65 percent to 35 percent, supported Kerry by only 55 to 43. Since Hispanics accounted for 12 percent of the vote (sic*), their 10-point shift meant a net gain for Bush of 2.4 percent which is most of the improvement in his popular-vote share.
But Steve Sailer, who has analyzed Hispanic voting patterns for years, raised questions about the validity of the exit poll data. On his web site, Sailer writes,
[D]id Bush really score in the mid 40s with Hispanics? I’ve looked through the troubled NEP exit poll data, and most of the states look reasonable: California 32%, Illinois 23%, New York 24%, Colorado 30%, Nevada 39%, Florida 56%, etc., but that national figure appears to be driven by an eye-popping report of 59% of Hispanics for Bush in Texas, up 16 percentage points from 43% in 2000.
Salier’s not the only one who noticed the odd Texas numbers. This Houston Chronicle article, argues strongly (and persuasively) that the Hispanic vote numbers cannot be believed–not just in Texas, but in the nation as a whole:
At first blush, the numbers seem too significant to be believed. And in truth, they might be.
National exit polls show that President Bush received an impressive 42 percent of the nationwide Latino vote Tuesday, seven to 10 points higher than his first run and possibly unprecedented for a modern-day Republican candidate.
But a prominent Latino organization claims the numbers are as incredible as they appear.
“It ain’t true,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Willie C. Velazquez Institute, which researches Latino voting patterns. “Their poll showed more Latinos voting than there are registered Latino voters. That tells you everything you need to know.”
That national exit poll showed more than 10 million Hispanics voted, he said, but Hispanic voters groups estimated the number at more than 7 million.
What went wrong? Gonzales said media surveys are not well-designed for measuring Hispanic voting patterns:
“They are designed to measure the general market. The Latinos are not suburban. We’re the most urban electorate in America. There are not lots of rural or suburban Latinos anywhere. What you get when you have a general market survey is one that shows more Latinos who are Republican.”
He said pre-election polling by various Latino organizations repeatedly showed Democrat John Kerry with a 2-1 edge over Bush, as did election-night exit polls by his organization.
“It doesn’t square,” he said. “Every poll for everybody had Latinos agreeing with Kerry on the issues. The media pollsters do good surveys. But it’s like measuring water with a slide ruler. It’s the wrong instrument for measuring the Latino vote.”
The Chronicle’s article goes on to point out the unbelievable number of pro-Bush Hispanics recorded in Texas:
among the dozens of numbers produced by the national exit poll, perhaps none were more surprising than the Latino totals for Texas. Bush, the poll concluded, earned 59 percent of their votes, a 16 percent jump from the same poll’s 2000 number.
Latino-voting experts agree Bush did better in their communities than he did in 2000. In the lower Rio Grande Valley, for instance, Kerry won Hidalgo County 55 percent to 45 percent and lost narrowly in Cameron County. Both have Hispanic populations exceeding 80 percent.
But if Bush actually did claim almost 60 percent of the Latino vote statewide, his overall margin over Kerry in Texas should have been closer to 70 percent, not the final 61 percent to 38 percent, Gonzalez said.
Why does all of this matter? Because both parties have been aggressively wooing the Hispanic vote. A surge in Hispanic support for Bush is sure to be interpreted as vindication of Bush’s support for quasi-amnesty for illegal aliens.
However, the premise that undergirds that conclusion–i.e., that Hispanics overwhelmingly oppose tough immigration enforcement–appears to be unwarranted. As long as we’re looking at exit polls (flawed though they may be), check out the results for Initiative 200 in Arizona. According to CNN’s web site, the anti-illegal immigration measure was supported by 47 percent(!) of Latino voters. And let’s not forget that pandering to the pro-illegal immigration lobby alienates some white swing voters.
Analysis of the Hispanic vote is sure to continue in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.
Update: Carolyn Curiel of the New York Times takes the probably-bogus exit poll data at face value (“How Hispanics Voted Republican“). She attributes the GOP’s gains to the fact that many Hispanics are religious.
VDARE has posted Steve Sailer’s excellent analysis here. He points out that two pre-election polls and an exit poll conducted by the Velasquez Institute showed Bush’s Hispanic support at 30-33 percent. If you’re interested in this topic, Sailer’s article is a must-read.
* According to exit poll data reported on CNN’s web site, Latinos accounted for 8 percent of the vote nationally.