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.
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.