Posted on November 11, 2004

Bush Didn’t Win 44% of Hispanic Vote — The Smoking Exit Poll

Steve Sailer, VDARE, November 11, 2004

On Sunday, I showed why the widely-reported claim by the notoriously-flawed $10 million National Election Pool exit poll that George W. Bush’s share of the Hispanic vote leapt from 35% in 2000 to 44% in 2004 didn’t match up with the actual votes counted.

Today, I will demonstrate that NEP’s Hispanic share estimate—reached after massive data massaging to eliminate the embarrassing fact that it had originally predicted a solid Kerry victory—is internally contradictory.

A seemingly technical question—but actually crucial for Republican strategists. Secretary of State Colin Powell has already been in Mexico to revive talks over opening the borders, just days after the election. Yesterday, the Washington Times’s Bill Sammon reported that President Bush has met with Senator John McCain to discuss “jump-starting” his amnesty proposal. [“Bush revives bid to legalize illegal aliens,” November 10 2004.]

The Administration intends to fast-talk Congressional Republicans into taking more immigrants by brandishing Bush’s alleged 44% Hispanic exit poll share.

The press has been scratching its head all week, trying to figure out the reasons behind the NEP’s Hispanic share data—really, the biggest surprise in an election of remarkably few surprises. The profile of Bush’s 2004 voters is almost identical, regionally and demographically, to his 2000 profile, just three points larger…except, supposedly, for Hispanics.

The Latino figure in the exit poll is a particular shocker because the Republican campaign brain trust, which had spent the first years of the Bush Administration boasting about how it was going to win over lots more Hispanics, had lately given up pushing such claims. Poll after poll showed Bush was headed toward roughly the same performance with Latinos as in 2000.

Indeed, the Nov. 15th issue of Newsweek reveals in a chapter of its instant history of the campaign entitled “Down to the Wire” that Karl Rove’s pollster Matthew Dowd wasn’t expecting to get even 42% of the Hispanic vote.

In a paragraph devoted to Dowd’s reactions during Election Day, Newsweek has Dowd thinking: “Bush seemed to be doing surprisingly well with Hispanics, winning 42 percent of their votes…”

Dowd, of course, oversees a private polling operation that dwarfs most of the public polls in size and accuracy. So his surprise at the 42% share (much less than the 44% number that the NEP ultimately came up with) shows that the Republicans’ internal polls must have been pointing toward a Hispanic share down in the 30s.

There’s a very simple explanation for this Hispanic-share surprise:

It didn’t actually happen.

The only evidence of a disproportionately large Hispanic surge toward Bush is in this one NEP exit poll—which also, it’s worth remembering, also predicted that Kerry would win by three points.

Reporters keep looking for actual physical locations where the Hispanic tidal wave carried Bush to victory. They aren’t finding much.

Consider, for example, this map showing all the counties in the U.S. that switched from Democrat to Republican (in red) since the 2000 election. Very few counties in heavily Hispanic areas changed sides.

In my Sunday column, I showed how implausible was the exit poll’s claim that Bush’s share of Hispanics in Texas had skyrocketed from 43% to 59%.

Michelle Malkin has directed me to this Houston Chronicle article by Mike Tolson headlined “Latinos’ support for Bush debated: Exit-poll math doesn’t add up, one institute says.” [Nov. 6, 2004,] The point:

“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.”

But you don’t even have to compare the NEP poll to reality to see that it’s untrustworthy. It’s also internally inconsistent.

In the comments section on Randall Parker’s, John S. Bolton pointed out something fishy: “CNN’s exit poll reports that Hispanics voted 64% for Bush in the Southern states.”

This is weirdly higher than Bush’s share in the Southern states of Florida and Texas, which have the largest Hispanic populations.

I did some digging along the lines that Bolton suggested and quickly hit paydirt.

Here’s the background: the NEP exit poll, as reported on CNN and other leading outlets, breaks out Presidential election numbers at three levels: nationally, regionally (East, Midwest, South, and West), and by states.

In each of the regions, not just the South, the sums of the individual states’ number of Hispanic votes for Bush add up to less than the exit poll’s total regional number of Hispanic votes.

The NEP reports the Hispanic share of the total vote in all states, but it only reports exactly whom Hispanics voted for in those states where there’s a statistically significant sample size of Hispanics.

In the South, for example, only four of the fourteen states have enough Latinos for the NEP to break out Bush’s and Kerry’s shares: Florida, Texas, Georgia, and, last and least, Oklahoma.

By combining the exit poll data with turnout data from the United States Election Project, we can see that the Bush’s Hispanic vote totals appear to be systematically inflated.

If we add up what the exit polls say was the total of Bush Hispanic votes from the broken-out states in each region, you repeatedly find that he would have had to have won an absurdly high share, often over 100% (!), in the other, unreported states in the region for the regional total to be accurate.

Let’s start with the South. The exit poll claims Bush won a jaw-dropping 64% of the Hispanic vote there, up 14 points from 2000.

The South has the most Hispanic voters of any region, according to the exit poll—35% of the national total. So, if Bush’s Hispanic share is exaggerated in the South, that would have a sizable effect on the national number.

Traditionally, Florida has the most Republican-voting Hispanics in the country due to its middle-class, anti-Communist Cuban population. The NEP poll reported that 56% of Florida’s Hispanics voted for Bush. By contrast, a Florida exit poll conducted by the New Democrat Network claimed that only 46% voted for Bush, but no matter. Either number is still below that 64% Bush share the national exit poll claimed to find in the South overall.

Something is strange if Florida’s Hispanics are less Republican than the regional average.

Less plausibly, the NEP exit poll alleged that Bush’s share in Texas zoomed up to 59 percent. But even if we take that as gospel, that’s still less than the 64% claimed for the South overall.

Florida and Texas between them have over 4/5ths of the South’s Hispanics. So to get the overall Southern regional Hispanic share to 64%, Hispanics in the remaining Southern states would have had to be incredibly pro-Bush. Yet the NEP reports that the third largest concentration of Hispanics in the South, in Georgia, only gave 56% of their votes to Bush.

So, where are these hyper-Republican Southern Latinos hiding?

In Oklahoma, the exit poll claims Bush won a staggering 74% of the Latino vote, higher even than Bush’s non-Hispanic white share.

This seems awfully unlikely.

But if you add up the Hispanic votes from these four states with broken-out shares for Bush, you still see Bush supposedly winning 1.730 million out of 2.981 million Southern Hispanic voters—only 58%. So what had to happen in the other ten states to get him to 64% for the South as a whole?

There are two ways to estimate this. The first is to simply subtract the four broken-out states total from the South’s 14-state total and assume the remainder is the result in the other 10 states.

So, if Hispanics made up 9% of the 38.382 million voters in all 14 states of the South, then there must be 0.474 million Latino voters in the other ten states. And if Bush really carried 64% of Hispanics overall in the South, then he must have won 0.480 million Hispanic votes in those other ten states.

That means he won 101% of these states’ Hispanic vote.

That seems a little … unlikely, even for Karl Rove.

Yet when you use the second and more reliable method for estimating how many Hispanics voted in the other ten states, the results get even more absurd.

Because the NEP reports Hispanic share of turnout for each state, you can estimate how many Hispanics voted in the other 10 Southern states: only 0.253 million. Bush still needs to have garnered 0.480 million votes to make his regional total. So his share of the Hispanic vote in the 10 hidden states was 190%.

I suspect this exceeds even Mr. Bush’s expectations. [Numbers fans should click here to see the Southern exit poll results.]

Similarly, the exit poll claims that in the West region, Bush took 39% of the Hispanic vote. But in the eight broken-out states, which account for something like 97% of all Hispanic voters in the West, Bush only garnered 34%.

So for the unspecified states (Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Utah) to raise Bush’s regional share from 34% to 39%, their Hispanics would have had to cast about 167% of their votes for Bush.

In the Midwest, the exit poll purports that Bush won 0.489 million votes from 1.527 million Hispanics (32%). But in the four broken-out states, he won only 0.216 million out of 0.735 million (29%). So Bush would have had to capture 0.273 million in the unspecified states. The exit poll reports that there were just 0.222 million Hispanic voters in those other states. So Bush must have won a 123% share of them.

In the East, the situation isn’t quite so preposterous. The exit poll reports that Bush won 28% in the whole region, and that’s what he won in the reported states. However, to make his supposed regional total of votes would still require him to win 95% of the Hispanics in the unreported Eastern states.

Let’s make two assumptions that are more realistic

—First, that Bush only achieved the same Hispanic share in the unspecified states of a region as in the broken-out states.

—Second, that instead of winning 59% of Latinos in Texas, he really captured only, say, 47%—still a healthy 4-point bump up over 2000.

That would put his Hispanic share at 38% to 39%, up 3 or 4 points from 2000, compared to his white share of 58%, which was up 4 points.

Historically, the gap between the white share and the Hispanic share stays relatively stable—and 2004 does not look like too much of an exception.

My conclusion: Bush scored at the high end of the GOP range for Hispanics—but he’s not really broken the mold.

Moral for Congressional Republicans: don’t ease your skepticism toward Bush’s immigration proposals because you think you’ll get Hispanic votes.

Hispanic immigrants continue to spell defeat for the Republican Party—whatever hopes the Bush Dynasty may have for them.

[Steve Sailer [email him], is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features site-exclusive commentaries.]

Mike Tolson, Houston Chronicle, November 6, 2004



National Latino vote


1980: 2.4 million

1984: 3.1 million

1988: 3.7 million

1992: 4.2 million

1996: 4.9 million

2000: 5.9 million

2004: 6.7 million (forecast); 7 million (estimated)

Latino presidential preference

1988: Michael Dukakis got 65 percent of the Latino vote; George H.W. Bush got 34 percent.

1992: Clinton, 65 percent; Bush, 23 percent; Perot, 12 percent.

1996: Clinton, 70 percent; Dole, 22 percent; Perot, 7 percent.

2000: Gore, 62 percent; Bush, 35 percent; other, 3 percent.

2004: Kerry, 51 percent; Bush, 31 percent.


Sources: Federal Election Commission, U.S. Census Bureau, Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, Willie C. Velazquez Institute

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.

Polling method

The institute, essentially a wing of the San Antonio-based Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, found itself at odds with the numbers put out by the main national exit poll in the previous two national elections. The problem, Gonzalez said, lies in the way the poll goes about collecting them.

“Network and media surveys are not designed to measure Latinos,” Gonzalez said. “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.”

Exit-poll problems

The $10 million polling system used by major news media to forecast the result of the presidential race had several problems. Selected results early on Election Day indicated a Kerry victory, for instance.

But 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.

Emerging electoral power

Rodolfo de la Garza, a political science professor at Columbia University and research director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, said he was convinced the national exit polls overstated Bush’s strength with Hispanics.

He said his organization’s late October poll of 1,600 Latinos showed no late-breaking movement toward Bush.

A Houston-area poll for the Houston Chronicle by Zogby International just before the election indicated that Latino voters favored Kerry 53 percent to 45 percent.

The national exit poll also showed a startling GOP gain in New Mexico, where Democrat Al Gore narrowly won in 2000 in large part to a 2-1 advantage among the Latino electorate.

This time, the poll showed Bush getting 44 percent of the Latino vote, accounting for his razor-slim victory of less than 9,000 votes.

But no matter how the numbers ultimately break down, Latino advocates claim the 2004 election shows the community’s emerging electoral power—they estimated 7.6 million votes cast, a record high.

Two Latinos were elected to the U.S. Senate—a Republican in Florida and a Democrat in Colorado. The Latino population is growing rapidly throughout the country, including in states where it has not had a historical presence.

“The big story is there was a huge Hispanic turnout,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “ I think there was a strong pickup by Bush, which bears out the strategy he and Karl Rove had of carving out a piece of the Hispanic vote.”

Western states’ impact

If Bush’s share of that vote had been limited to 20 percent, as it was for Republican contender Bob Dole in 1996, Kerry might have won some states that Bush captured, he said.

As in New Mexico, an 80-20 Latino split for Kerry in Nevada likely would have put the state and its five electoral votes in his column instead of Bush’s. For all the attention paid to Florida and Ohio, had Bush not done respectably in Latino communities in those two Western states and not carried Iowa by a hair (Bush won by 13,000 votes of almost 1.5 million cast), he would have lost the election.

The increased GOP support, whatever its extent, shows that the Democratic Party cannot take the Latino vote for granted, Wilkes said.

Latinos will not be a predictable voting bloc, said Clarissa Martinez, director of state policy for the National Council of La Raza.

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