Doubtful Fewer Latinos Turned Out for Clinton

There are reasons to doubt Hillary Clinton lost support from Latino voters.

Hillary Clinton
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton gives a speech in Iowa, January 23 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

Exit poll data on election night suggested that Hillary Clinton had fared unexpectedly poorly with Latino voters whom her opponent, Donald Trump, had disparaged throughout the presidential campaign.

As reported by CNN, which commissioned Edison Research for the exit poll together with other national media outlets, only 65 percent of Latinos reportedly supported Clinton against 29 percent for Trump.

That would be worse than Barack Obama did four years ago. He got 71 percent of the Latino vote against 27 percent for Mitt Romney.

The exit poll also said that Hispanic turnout had barely increased from 2012.

Both findings fly in the face of various preelection polls, which had predicted that Latinos would turn out in higher numbers and overwhelmingly back Clinton.

It’s possible they did and the exit poll got it wrong.

Why the figures may be wrong

Matt Barreto and Gary Segura of Latino Decisions, another polling firm, write in The Huffington Post that Edison’s figures are likely off.

They give several reasons. These two are the most compelling to me:

  1. While the national poll averages were off by 1 or 2 percent, Edison’s figures for Latino voters diverge 10 to 15 percent from surveys conducted before the election.
  2. Edison itself has cautioned that its poll was not designed to capture sub-populations, like Latinos. They designed it to offer one national estimate and help news outlets predict the outcome on election night.

It’s tempting to dig into the exit poll numbers, but surveys conducted before the election that specifically sought to capture Latino sentiment are probably more reliable.


One carried out by Latino Decisions itself found (PDF) that 82 percent of Latino voters were fearful of a Trump presidency.

That came after the Republican had (falsely) claimed that Mexico deliberately exports its murderers and rapists to the United States.

He also argued that the judge in a federal court case against his now-defunt Trump University could not be fair because his parents were born in Mexico — a claim even Republican House speaker Paul Ryan described as the “textbook definition” of racism.

It seems incredible that Trump wouldn’t have driven up Latino turnout in Clinton’s favor.