In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s win over Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses last Saturday, there has been much discussion about which candidate won the Latino vote. The entrance poll* showed Clinton losing among that group of voters by eight points, 53% to 45%. But subsequent critiques in several publications (Nate Cohn at the New York Times (here and here), and Dara Lind of Vox, among others) suggest that the entrance poll was wrong.
Contradicting the poll results are Clinton’s victories in areas where there are the most Latinos and losses where there are the fewest. The contrast is particularly sharp in Clark County, which is the most heavily Latino county in the state, and which Clinton won by 10 percentage points.
As Vox’s Dara Lind concludes,
“The only explanation for the entrance polls would be that Clinton consistently won the parts of Nevada where the most Latinos happen to be — by overwhelmingly winning the non-Latino vote there, while Sanders won the Latino vote.
“That is extremely unlikely. It is more likely that Hillary Clinton won the most Latino parts of Nevada because Hillary Clinton won Nevada’s Latinos.”
An interesting aspect to the entrance poll is that, even if it is correct, it indicates that the candidates actually tied among Latinos.
According to Joe Lenski, who oversees the entrance/exit poll operation for the news media, Sanders won young Latino voters (under 30) by 83% to 12%, which the entrance poll shows is virtually the same by which he won young voters overall: 82% to 14%.
Similarly, Clinton beat Sanders by 65% to 34% among older Latino voters (30 and above), again virtually the same margin as she won the older voters overall: 67% to 31%.
Given the similarity in voting by age, how did the entrance poll show Sanders winning? The answer: Because the poll sample of Latino voters had a much larger proportion of young voters than did the sample of non-Latino voters.
In short, the entrance poll suggests that Sanders’ “win” among Latinos was not because there was some policy issue that differentiated this group from the rest, but rather because the Latino voters were simply much younger. When age is taken into account, Latino voters were no different from other voters.
Still, the kerfuffle over perceptions continues – with each campaign claiming that its candidate won the Latino vote – soon to be overtaken by real votes in South Carolina and beyond.
*In caucus states, like Iowa and Nevada, interviews are conducted with voters as they arrive at the polling location, before they take the time to caucus and come to a vote (hence “entrance poll”), rather than afterward, as is the case with exit polls.