Did Latinos tip Trump over the edge? Experts dispute what happened

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Exit polls suggest 29% of Latinos voted for the Republican a higher margin than Mitt Romney in 2012 but researchers say Latinos actually surged for Clinton

Polls and punditry predicted a Latino surge would clinch Hillary Clintons election but now the question is whether Latinos helped put Donald Trump in the White House.

Exit polls suggest 29% voted for the Republican a higher margin than Mitt Romney won in 2012 and perhaps enough to have tipped the scales in battleground states.

That possibility sent analysts scrambling on Wednesday to plumb the numbers and ponder the psyche of an ethnic minority which Trump was deemed to have insulted and provoked.

CNNs exit poll found that 65% of Latinos voted for Clinton while 29% cast their votes for Trump. In 2012 Barack Obama won 71% of the Latino vote and Romney won 27%.

The number crunching site FiveThirtyEight said this may have tilted Floridas 29 electoral college votes into the column of a candidate who called Mexican immigrants rapists and vowed to deport millions of undocumented people. Trumps margin among Latino voters in Florida, though thinner than it has been for Republican candidates in past races, likely helped him win that critical state.

However Latino Decisions, a leader in Latino political opinion research, disputes CNNs exit poll and thinks a Latino surge did in fact happen.

The firms analysis of actual voting results in 12 states suggested Latinos voted in record numbers and gave Clinton a thumping majority.

We think it was 79% for Clinton and 18% for Trump, Matt Barreto, the firms co-founder, told the Guardian. We think theres a 0% chance that Trump did better than Romney in 2012. His negative numbers were through the roof. It was very strong for Clinton and turnout was higher.

These results, if confirmed, would broadly match pre-election polls by Latino Decisions, NBC, Univision, Telemundo and the Washington Post.

Donald
Donald Trump held a rally in Florida the weekend before election day. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Critics of Latino Decisions say the firms methodology lacks transparency and on occasion may favour clients wishes.

Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center, had frustrating news for those demanding instant answers: voting results do not convey ethnic data so a full analysis must await next years census survey.

However exit polls did suggest there was increase in the Latino vote and that Clinton did about as well as Obama in 2008, said Lopez.

Trump may have outperformed Romney, he added. Its possible he did as well or possibly better. If so that would underline the fact Latinos are not monolithic, said Lopez.

The Latino vote is a diverse vote with many different points of view. Many are military veterans. Many are born in the US and far from Latino roots. Many are evangelicals. So the diversity of the Hispanic electorate can explain some of these results.

Latinos who prefer English to Spanish may have proved more receptive to Trump.

One example was Noemi Martinez, 58, and her mother Noemi Garza, 76, who voted in Phoenix, Arizona. I voted for Donald Trump because hes a businessman and knows how to get things done, said Martinez. Hillary has been there so many years and what has she done? She lies. All of my sons and sisters are voting for Trump. He has a few issues but people change. Hopefully hell do the right thing once he gets into the White House. I figure its take a liar or take a chance and I figure take a chance. Garza, in contrast, voted for Clinton.

Rory Carroll (@rorycarroll72)

Latina Mom voting Clinton, daughter Trump. ‘Between a liar and take our chance I figure take a chance.’ pic.twitter.com/zuLKr7zVSN

November 8, 2016

Latino activists, who had expected to bask in the glory of clinching a Clinton victory, were grappling with Trumps stunning win on Wednesday. They had promised a wall of Latino votes to demolish Trump and his promise of walling off the southern border.

Well still need to see the results as they come in but I doubt the exit polls were correct, said Lizet Ocampo, director of the People For the American Ways Latino vote programme. She predicted that final results would show a record Latino turnout voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.

That would explain why Arizona, where activists registered 150,000 new voters, turfed out Sheriff Joe Arpaio and edged the red state closer to purple, she said. We made inroads.

In 2012 only about half of the USs eligible Latino voters voted far below white and African Americans partly because of poverty, political disengagement and lack of confidence in English. We need more resources and more work because the gap is so large, said Ocampo.

She offered one source of consolation: after Californians approved a crackdown on illegal immigration in 1994 Latinos organised and turned demographic heft into political power, gradually transforming the state of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan into a Democratic stronghold.

The prospect of a grinding, generational battle of mobilisation and attrition to turn the tide offered little comfort to activists across the US who found their election parties turning to wakes.

The mood in the offices of Somos Orlando, a Florida activist group, started high with song, dance, food and wine. People seemed jubilant, almost euphoric; they talked of saving the country from the clutches of a man they feared.

The mood dropped to disappointment and finally tumbled into a sense of betrayal by friends and neighbors. How, they wondered, could so many have backed Trump despite what they saw as his xenophobic views?

Do you want to go home? Nancy Sharifi asked her husband, Farid. Shes from Puerto Rico, hes from Iran. They sat on a sofa together, and his 62-year-old eyelids had started to droop. I dont want to go because youll fall asleep and Ill be depressed by myself.

The couple watched with horror as Trumps red influence spread from the eastern seaboard through the center of the country, into the west. Hillary Clinton was doomed. A note of fear crept into their conversation.

You know he said hes going to cut funding to places that harbor immigrants? she said.

I know. Thats why hes winning.

The unprecedented turnout in Floridas rural areas, Nancy suspected, was a response to growing Latino communities farther south. Its … She searched her English for the word. Its xenophobic. Its a reaction against people who look different. People who have accents. Im worried very, very worried for Muslims in the country.

Farid pinned his hopes on a younger generation. The millennials. They can take it back.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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