Latino vote may have been under-counted in polling

Even though everyone knew incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet had closed the gap between himself and longtime front-runner Republican Ken Buck in the weeks leading up to last week’s midterm election, polls still showed Buck winning by 1-2 points.

Yet, when the votes had been counted, Bennet held on to his seat by about a point.

How to explain it? One theory is that polling under-counted the Hispanic vote. Many polls, for instance, make it difficult or impossible for people who prefer communicating with a pollster in any language other than English to be counted.

Over the weekend, The New York Times took a look at Hispanic voters and their effect on Colorado races:

In Colorado, the races were full of polarized talk about immigration, as Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman known for his especially tough stance on the issue, joined the governor’s race against the Democrat John Hickenlooper, who was Denver’s mayor. Both Mr. Hickenlooper and Mr. Bennet won the Latino vote by very wide margins, Mr. (Gary) Segura said. (Segura is a political science professor at Stanford.)

Latinos “rejected the anti-Latino message that poisoned the airwaves throughout much of the campaign,” said Jessie Ulibarri, Colorado director for Mi Familia Vota Civic Participation Campaign. “When candidates use those messages it backfires on them pretty fiercely,” he said.

And from The Washington Post:

As America grows more Latino, the perils of immigrant-bashing will begin to outweigh its rewards. After Sharron Angle’s and Tom Tancredo’s campaigns, Republicans, at least in Nevada and Colorado, should understand this.

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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