« New Analysis Confirms Complexity of Religious Vote | Main | A Close-Up Look at Undecided Voters »

Did Bush Really Get 44 Percent of the Hispanic Vote?

I very strongly doubt it. This claim is based, first and foremost, on the finding in the National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll, the nation’s largest and by far most influential, exit poll. But that finding, if carefully scrutinized, seems highly implausible for a variety of reasons. I lay these out below and conclude that a more reasonable estimate for Bush’s Hispanic support this year is around 39 percent.

Start with the Texas exit poll. That poll shows Bush with an astonishing 59 percent of the Hispanic vote. That’s an increase of 16 points in Bush’s support over 2000 and a shift in margin of 29 points (from an 11 point deficit to an 18 point lead).

The poll also claims that this mega-shift happened at the same time that Bush’s support was being compressed among whites. Bush’s support, the exit poll claims, dropped by a point among Texas whites compared to 2000, at the same time as Kerry’s support among Texas whites rose by 4 points compared to Gore’s. So Texas’ favorite son runs for re-election and widens his margin among white voters practically everywhere–except Texas, where he loses ground! But among Hispanics in Texas, he gets a massive 29 point shift in his favor.

This pattern just doesn’t make sense. But where the Texas poll makes the least sense of all is when you try to match them up with the county-level voting returns. If Bush was pulling over 70 percent of the white vote and almost 60 percent of the Hispanic vote, how on earth did he lose any counties in Texas....like (racial composition figures based on voting age population):

Brooks county: 90 percent Hispanic, 10 percent white (68-32 Kerry)

Dimmit county: 83 percent Hispanic, 16 percent white, 1 percent black (66-33 Kerry)

Duval county: 86 percent Hispanic, 13 percent white, 1 percent black (71-28 Kerry)

El Paso county: 75 percent Hispanic, 20 percent white, 3 percent black (56-43 Kerry)

Hidalgo county: 85 percent Hispanic, 14 percent white (55-45 Kerry)

Jim Wells county: 73 percent Hispanic, 23 percent white (54-46 Kerry)

Maverick county: 94 percent Hispanic, 4 percent white (59-40 Kerry)

Starr county: 97 percent Hispanic, 2 percent white (74-26 Kerry)

Webb county: 94 percent Hispanic, 6 percent white (57-43 Kerry)

My, my, where could those 59 percent Bush-voting Hispanics be hiding in the great state of Texas? Perhaps in the big urban areas like Harris county (Houston)? Well, let’s see, if we figure Hispanics are at least a sixth of Harris county voters (probably more, but let’s be conservative), then, by themselves, they would push up Bush’s margin, compared to 2000, by five points if they really voted for him at the 59 percent rate (and it should be even higher to balance the apparently way-under-59 percent Hispanics in these other Texas counties). But wait!–Bush’s margin actually contracted in Harris county by a point. Maybe black voters (18 percent of the Harris county VAP) moved the needle back the other way? Seems unlikely if we believe the Texas exit poll: it says Bush improved his margin among black voters by 19 points in 2004!

That just deepens the mystery. To account for the slight shift away from Bush in Harris county, we would then have to assume that Harris county whites reduced their margin for Bush by 12 points or more in 2004.

Similar exercises could be performed on other counties, but these examples should suffice to make the point: the 59 percent figure, as common sense would suggest, is clearly a gross overestimate of Texas Hispanics’ support for Bush in 2004.

That puts the national exit poll figure for Hispanics off to a bad start:. In 2000, Texas Hispanics were 10 percent of the national exit polls’ Hispanic sample and this year they will likely be substantially more (the latest Census population projection put Texas Hispanics at 19 percent of the nation’s Hispanic VAP and the Texas exit poll has Hispanics at 23 percent of Texas voters this year, compared to just 10 percent in 2000).

And we would expect Bush’s support in the southern region of the national exit poll, which includes Texas, to be particularly skewed by the Texas figure. That it is, it’s.......64 percent! Wait a minute–64 percent: that’s even higher than the Texas figure! Maybe it’s the inclusion of Florida in the southern region sample? Nope, the Florida exit poll says Hispanics voted 56 percent for Bush, 3 points less than their Texas counterparts (amazing in and of itself!)

Only two other states in the southern region (Georgia and Oklahoma) have Hispanic breakouts available, so can’t directly find all the missing pro-Bush Hispanics. But, as the astute conservative analyst and number-cruncher, Steve Sailer, has calculated, if you take the given Hispanic Bush support rates for the four available states and figure the number of Hispanic Bush votes that implies from those four states, you can then estimate how many Hispanic Bush votes must have come from the non-broken-out states (given their percentage of overall voters in those states, which the NEP has released) to produce the number of southern Bush Hispanic votes indicated by the 64 percent support figure. Well, I suppose the Hispanics in those other states could have produced those missing votes–but only if they voted early and often: they would have had to support Bush at the rate of 190 percent! (Read Sailer’s analysis in its entirety for all the details on these calculations.)

There are similar problems with the other regions of the national exit poll. In the west, the NEP says that Bush’s Hispanic support rose by 11 points (from 28 to 39 percent). But the NEP California exit poll says that Bush’s Hispanic support in that state rose by only 4 points over 2000 (from 28 to 32 percent). Given that California Hispanic voters are over three-fifths of this entire region’s Hispanic voters, that puts a heavy burden on the other states of West to produce this 11 point jump in support for Bush. Indeed, as Steve Sailer has calculated, once you take into account the other released Bush support rates for Hispanics in western states, Hispanics in the remaining states in the West must have supported Bush at the rate of 167 percent to reconcile the released state figures with the western region figure.

Sailer’s similar calculations for the midwest (123 percent Bush support among Hispanics in non-broken-out states) and the east (95 percent) show this problem affects all regions, albeit not as severely as the south and west.

OK, so what’s the explanation for this particular set of anomalies?–that is, even accepting all the various state-level Hispanic figures as gospel, including the absurd Texas figure, why do we get these crazy mismatches between the state figures and the regional figures from the national poll?

It seems to me there are two logical possibilities. One is that the Hispanic respondents included in the national poll systematically differ from those included in the state poll. So, for example, if Texas Hispanics in the state poll support Bush at 59 percent, those Texas Hispanic respondents included in the national poll support him at, say, 67 percent. Or California Hispanic respondents in the national poll support Bush at 39 percent, not 32 percent. And so on.

That strikes me as less likely than the other possibility. We know the national exit poll took some pretty serious weighting to get it to match up with the actual election figures. This suggests that, for example, even Hispanics that were already sampled/weighted in the Texas exit poll to have a 59 percent support rate for Bush were probably further weighted toward Bush in the process of getting the national exit poll “corrected”. The same logic would apply to the other states–Hispanic respondents from those states in the national poll got an additional “push” toward Bush that makes their Bush support rates higher than those measured at the state level.

If this has happened, it’s worth noting that in the 2000 VNS poll this problem does not appear to have occurred. If you take the Hispanic proportions of voters in each state in the 2000 poll and the Hispanic support rates for Bush in each of those states, you can calculate a state-based 2000 Bush support rate and compare it to the national rate. They are very close: the state-based rate is 34 percent and the national rate is 35 percent.

All this leaves us with a question: if 44 percent is the wrong level for Bush’s support among Hispanics, what is the right level? Of course, we’ll never really know for sure, but I am persuaded, by playing with the numbers and making some reasonable assumptions to correct the anomalies in the NEP that it is somewhere around 39 percent. That is also Sailer’s conclusion and that of the National Council of La Raza, whose extremely useful review of 2004 poll and voting data on Hispanics I recommend to you.

If the 39 percent figure is about right, that would mean Bush improved his standing among Hispanics by 4 points–about his gain in support among voters overall. That makes sense to me and is certainly no cause for complacency among Democrats. But there is no reason to panic either: Bush made gains among Hispanics, as he did among most voter groups, but not a breakthrough.

Comments

I thought you might be interested to know that a letter from Congressman Jose Serrano published in the New York Times on November 16, 2004, claimed a gain for the Democrats in the Hispanic vote, based on exit polls by the Willian C. Velasquez Institute.

For what it's worth, the L.A. Times national exit poll had Bush getting 45% of the Latino vote.

http://pollingreport.com/2004.htm#Exit

The poll included 5,154 voters, including 3,357 from California. The California voters were (presumably) weighted down to match California's share of the national voting population; however, having only about 1,800 voters to represent the entire rest of the nation seems small -- the exit poll reported at cnn.com had 13,660 respondents nationally:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html

Yet, the L.A. Times poll corroborates the other estimate of Bush getting around 44% of the Hispanic vote. The key question has to be how independent of each other are these polls? For two polls that are (hypothetically) completely independent (i.e., done by different pollsters, with different respondents), it would seem unlikely that both would come up with essentially the same figure for the Hispanic vote just by chance.

However, if there were some shared (and flawed) methodological features between the different exit polls, then the 44-45% figure could be off.

The NEP doesn't seem to even pretend to have its state by state and national figures correspond. The state by state exit polling of the Jewish vote provides results that appear facially to contradict the national exit poll's figure of Bush winning 25% of the Jewish vote.

Going by the numbers available at cnn.com ( http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html ), there are 9 states (including DC) for which the exit pollsters broke out the Jewish vote. These nine "states" (8 states and DC) are NY, CA, FL, NJ, MA, MD, MI, NV, and DC, and according to the America Jewish Committee, those states represent 4,461,500 of America's 6,1555,000 Jews (72.5%).

In only one of those states, Nevada, does Bush receive fully the 25% he is accredited with nationwide. Bush is credited with 35% in Nevada, which the America Jewish Committee estimates has 77,000 Jews. In the other 8 states, Bush receives between 9% (MA) and 24% (NJ), with the outcomes in the three states with the most Jews, NY, CA, and FL, varying between 18 and 20%. Note that in 2000, the national exit poll showed Bush with 19% of the Jewish vote.

What does this mean? I cannot say with certainty, but I can say that it suggests that the exit poll is internally consistent.

Here's another thesis as to why Bush did better than he should have in Florida: Screwy touchscreen voting. See the Wired News article at http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65757,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1 for details.

dt

There were other places besides Latinos where the ex.poll numbers didn't quite jell, either.
In my analysis, I left out states where Latinos made up 5% or less of the state's voters and focused on the predominant ones.

Why did TX (+16), NM (+12), AZ (+9), NJ (+8) and FL (+7) supposedly shift more than the others, like CA (+4), CO (+5) and IL (+6)?

And why, even post-shift, did Kerry pull in 68%-80% in CO, NY, CT, IL and MA, but only pulled 56%in NJ, NV, AZ, NM, pulled 63% in CA, and lost FL 44-56 and TX 41-59 and OK 26-74? (Note: I hadn't previously included OK, with a 5% Latino voting base)

These wide divergences can't be explained away by Mexicans vs. Cubans vs Puerto Ricans either.

It's significant enough not to just say the exit polling's off, but esp in TX, NM, AZ, NJ, FL, OK, I think it warrants further investigation to see what campaign efforts Rove made in each. Republicans are the majority in most of those, but NJ and NM had more registered Dems voting, so it's not just ideological surroundings, either.

Dismissing the exit polls is too easy. Getting a fuller picture is essential to longterm election strategy, so I hope there's wayyyy more followup.

Another aberration in a wholly different deographic and perhaps the one that cost the election was the voters aged over 65. In most swing states, Bush carried the over-60 crowd by narrow margins, but Kerry carried over-65.

The standout different one was Ohio, where under 65 produced a 50-50 tie and over 65 produced a whopping 58-42 for Bush! This was a 12% shift in this demographic over the 2000 election, and the group represents 12% of Ohio's voters.

If the numbers are close to correct, it means the ultimate deciders of the 2004 election were Ohio retirees. Did gay marriage swing that group? It's the other place where serious followup is needed to understand what happened.

Impressive as Kerry's showings in Texas Hispanic counties look, they are *way* down from Gore's in 2000. Yes, Kerry carried Brooks by 68-32. But Gore carried it by better than 3-1! Yes, he carried Dimmit with 66 percent. But Gore carried it with 72.5 percent of the two-party vote. Kerry's 71-28 in Duval looks impressive--until you compare it with Gore's 3,890-1,010 (almost 4-1)! And so on and so on. I don't know what Bush's final percentage of the Hispanic vote was, but in Texas at least it seems to be more than just 3 or 4 points better than 2000 (which let us not forget was itself way better than the GOP did with Hispanics in 1996 or even 1992).

Dan Tynan and others should find, in addition to that excellent article on the e-vote study AND OBSERVATIONS ON THE GROUND described by Wired News, the issue of the optiscan votes. Here's an example of vote tabulators caught red-handed in Volusia County throwing out poll tapes from the election AFTER a COURT ORDER for their release had been issued ( & more issue-laundering, just like the burying of the issue of justifying the lying in the media and the throwing of the election on the flipflop spin and the Bai distortion):
'Stinking Evidence' of Possible Election Fraud Found in Florida
by Thom Hartmann, CommonDreams.org

November 18, 2004

Here's a nifty passage:
Bev [Harris of Blackboxvoting] showed up bright and early the morning of Wednesday the 17th - well before the scheduled meeting - and discovered three of the elections officials in the Elections Warehouse standing over a table covered with what looked like poll tapes. When they saw Bev and her friends, Bev told me in a telephone interview less than an hour later, "They immediately shoved us out and slammed the door."

In a way, that was a blessing, because it led to the stinking evidence.

"On the porch was a garbage bag," Bev said, "and so I looked in it and, and lo and behold, there were public record tapes."

Thrown away. Discarded. Waiting to be hauled off.

"It was technically stinking, in fact," Bev added, "because what they had done was to have thrown some of their polling tapes, which are the official records of the election, into the garbage. These were the ones signed by the poll workers. These are something we had done an official public records request for."

When the elections officials inside realized that the people outside were going through the trash, they called the police and one came out to challenge Bev.
..... {and more}
When they compared the discarded, signed, original tapes with the recent printouts submitted to the state and used to tabulate the Florida election winners, Harris says a disturbing pattern emerged.

"The difference was hundreds of votes in each of the different places we examined," said Bev, "and most of those were in minority areas."

When I asked Bev if the errors they were finding in precinct after precinct were random, as one would expect from technical, clerical, or computer errors, she became uncomfortable.

"You have to understand that we are non-partisan," she said. "We're not trying to change the outcome of an election, just to find out if there was any voting fraud."

That said, Bev added: "The pattern was very clear. The anomalies favored George W. Bush. Every single time."
-----------------------------------------------------
This and the patterns uncovered by the UC Berkeley researchers underlies the explained away difference between the exit polls and the reported results. Fortunately (for Republicans and their apologists) the e-votes aren't subject to any recount. The optiscan stuff, however, gives us an idea of what has been going on.
In former SSR Georgia, they threw the government out when the vote tallies didn't match the exit polls; in the US it's all just tin-foil hat thinking.
There's also the (unverified) news lockdown at CBS.
And the pooh poohing of the issue throughout the mainstream media.
Once you have a system of 'justifying the lying' and 'reporting for duty' instead of fighting to win, there's no limit to what you can get away with in undermining democracy. To paraphrase Al Smith, the problems of justifying the lying are solved only by more justifying of the lying.

Even so, Democrats can not afford to let themselves believe they are not losing Hispanic voters at a steady rate. Maybe this is only a couple election event, but Democrats need to refine their cultural message, particularly on abortion, or risk losing this group to the Republicans.

Somebody please help me out:

Why does the New York Times' spreadsheet of exit poll results shows the Hispanic vote to be 58-43, while MSNBC and CNN show it as 53-44?

Which one is right?

I am about halfway through building a county-by-county comparison of the figures involved in 2000 and 2004. Very tedious, which is why it isn't finished yet. In doing some I discovered something that seemed quite odd to me and MAY apply.

In 2000, the VNS questionaire had a question that asked for race: white, black, asian, hispanic and other. Further down the questionaire, it had ANOTHER question asking only if the person was hispanic or not. The weighting details I read indicated that the weighting 'trapped' the people who indicated that they were hispanic on the SECOND question and listed them as hispanic regardless of what they indicated on the first question.

The census bureau has the same idea but does it differently. Their data and what I remember from the questionaire has a respondent indicate race from choices of B,W,A,NA, and PI, and then asks a separate question about whether the respondent is hispanic or not.

If the exit polling was done in the same way in 2004 (and I can't find a questionaire to find out), then the numbers aren't directly comparable to census numbers, so any weighting is probably going to be wrong.

The WCVI numbers were gathered using 900 odd hispanic respondents across Texas in 2000 and 2004, whereas the nat. exits were done with 800 or so people of all races. I expect the WCVI numbers are closer to the truth. (35 for Bush in 2000, 32.5 for Bush in 2004)

ash
['Well, that's it so far.']

The exit poll had far too many minority precincts in their sample, which led to results favoring Kerry. This had to be fixed in a hurry. They faked the data by removing Hispanic Kerry-supporting respondents, but few Bush ones. This would cause the anomaly of 44% Latinos for Bush, which is a fiction.

Rudy,

How about Bexar county containing San Antonio in TX? It's got a huge Hispanice base (I'd say near 50%) and a huge population (1.3 million?). This is where the big numbers should be...far more so than Harris (Houston) or El Paso counties.

Daniel