A surge in Hispanic support for President Bush was the big story of the elections. According to exit polls used by the networks and most newspapers, President Bush won 43 to 45 percent of the Hispanic vote, more than any other Republican Presidential candidate in history, and a big increase over the 35 percent of four years ago. Mr. Bush reportedly won the Hispanic vote outright in several states, getting 56 percent in Florida, and a crushing 59 percent in Texas.
Many commentators immediately claimed this was proof the Republican “Hispanic strategy” was working. The Associated Press’s political writer, Liz Sidoti, says “the Latin American immigrant community has become a powerful swing voting group” that both parties must now court. Democratic strategist Dick Morris went even farther, claiming that Mr. Bush would have lost if he had not supported amnesty, benefits for illegals, and bilingual education.
Skeptics of the poll results soon emerged. Steven Sailer immediately pointed out serious inconsistencies on VDARE.com. At the same time, the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) claimed to have a more accurate poll that showed only 33 percent of Hispanics voted for Bush. On December 2, a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, DC put the myth of a Republican surge among Hispanics to rest. Antonio Gonzalez, president of the WCVI, made a convincing presentation, and a representative of NBC television, Ana Maria Arumi, admitted that the poll her network relied on was wrong. Mr. Gonzalez handed out a detailed study of the exit polls by political scientist Dr. Henry Flores of St. Mary’s University explaining why the WCVI poll was superior to the rest.
NBC, along with just about everyone else, accepted the results of the National Election Pool (NEP) poll, sponsored by the major networks and the Associated Press, which claimed that 44 percent of Hispanics voted for Mr. Bush. However, WCVI researchers found that the NEP poll was skewed by bad sampling. More than half of Hispanics live in large cities, but most of the NEP sample came from suburbs or cities with populations of 500,000 or fewer. Forty-six percent of the sample had a Bachelor’s degree, whereas only 16 percent of registered Hispanics have finished college. In short, there were too many well-educated, suburban Hispanics, who are more likely to vote Republican.
This illustrates a basic problem: a poll can be reliable for the nation but badly wrong for subgroups. National polls reflect the numbers of urban, suburban, and rural voters, but Hispanics are more urban than anyone else—even more so than blacks. The NEP sample did not give enough weight to urban Hispanics, who vote heavily Democratic. According to WCVI, the NEP sample was also biased towards Florida, and although 60 percent of Hispanic voters are of Mexican origin, only 39 percent of its sample were Mexican.
The Velasquez Institute’s own poll targeted Hispanics only, so it was not thrown off by trying to measure anyone else. To get as representative a sample as possible, it polled only in heavily Hispanic precincts of the fourteen states in which the majority of Hispanics live. It also weighted for geographical distribution: since 52.7 percent of Hispanics are in California and Texas, 52.7 percent of the sample came from those states.
The WCVI reports that 33 percent of Hispanics voted for Pres. Bush and 65.4 percent for Sen. Kerry. This means there was no real change from four years ago, although there were some regional shifts. Republicans made gains among Hispanics in Texas and Arizona, but lost Hispanics in Colorado and Florida. WCVI adds that pre-election polls corresponded closely to its results but not to those of the NEP.
Miss Arumi, election manager at NBC, confirmed WCVI’s criticisms, admitting that the NEP oversampled southern Florida Hispanics and that only 30 percent of the sample came from urban areas. WCVI’s Mr. Gonzalez pointed out that just getting the urban/suburban mix wrong could account for the NEP’s slanted results.
Miss Arumi said the NEP collected two samples, one for the national vote, and a larger one for the state-by-state vote. The initial claim that 44 percent of Hispanics voted for Mr. Bush was based on the national sample, but in light of the larger, state samples, NEP officially dropped its figure to 40 percent. It also drastically revised its figures for Texas, cutting back the Hispanic Republican vote from 59 percent to 49 percent.
While the NEP has revised its numbers downward, its estimate of the national Hispanic vote for Pres. Bush is still seven points higher than WCVI’s. All things considered, however, we should prefer the WCVI poll because they have explained and justified their polling methods in detail, and the NEP has not.
Miss Arumi reported that Hispanics in big cities vote almost as heavily Democratic as blacks do: 70 percent. She said that outside the big cities, Pres. Bush got 47 percent of the vote to Sen. Kerry’s 51 percent.
Mr. Gonzalez had a number of comments about the Hispanic electorate in general. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic voters were under 29, and 26 percent were voting in their first American election. Of these new voters, no fewer than 70 percent voted Democratic, or 4.6 percent more than the 65.4 percent of Hispanics as whole who supported Mr. Kerry. Mr. Gonzalez says neither homosexual marriage nor abortion nor even immigration mattered very much to Hispanic voters; what they cared about most were the economy and the Iraq war.
Hispanic activists are delighted to hear Hispanics described as “swing voters.” National Council of La Raza, for example, claimed the election proved Hispanics are not bound to any party, and that the Democrats had better stop taking them for granted. Mr. Gonzalez said this is nonsense, arguing that Hispanics are solidly Democratic, and not swing voters at all. He specifically pointed out that Hispanic organizations are eager to claim a swing-voter constituency because they want both parties to cater to Hispanics, and to court the activist organizations.
The WCVI panel confirmed that Hispanics continue to vote as a bloc, and supported the view that if Hispanic immigration continues, it could push the Republicans into permanent minority status or force them into more liberal positions even than Democrats. That the newest Hispanic voters are even more solidly Democratic than longer-term citizens makes the trend all the more acute.
Will the Republicans look at the polling data carefully and draw the right conclusions, or will they continue in the delusion that they captured millions of Hispanic “swing voters?” The answer could affect the positions they take on key questions like amnesty, licenses for illegals, border security, and the looming, long-term question of whether to cut back on the million or so *legal* immigrants who come every year.
What Sam Francis has long called the Stupid Party seems wedded to minority—specifically Hispanic—outreach whether it works or not. For the next ten years, they are probably capable of basing their campaigns on poll results that have been shown to be wrong. When election results do not match the “breakthrough” of 2004 they will scratch their heads, and decide that Republicans will just have to promise even more benefits for Hispanics.
Thanks in part to the Velasquez Institute, the facts are clear: The only dependable supporters Republicans have are white people. Eventually, the party will lose even their vote if it continues to court “swing voters” who swing only one way.