Donald Trump won the Republican Nevada caucuses and in his victory speech Tuesday night he bragged about winning “the Hispanics” as he likes to say. He told his crowd of supporters “And you know what I’m really happy about? Number 1 with Hispanics!” However there are five very important points that have gotten lost in the media reporting of the Nevada entrance polls.
1. We are only talking about the very small percent of Nevada Latinos who are Republican today. An overwhelming majority of Nevada Latinos are Democrats. In a recent poll asking about party identification, 55% of Latinos said they were Democrats, 29% said Independents and just 16% said they were Republicans. Assuming the entrance poll is correct (a very big assumption) and Trump won 44% of Latino Republicans, that means he was supported by about 7% of Latinos in Nevada (44% of 16 = 7.04). What that mean is that most likely, 93% of Latinos in Nevada did not vote for Trump.
2. The entrance poll has a very, very small sample size of Latino Republicans, perhaps only 130, which means that even if everything else is perfect in its methodology, it carries a +/- 8.5% points on the Latino sample. Further, the Nevada entrance polls are not designed to get accurate subgroup vote share estimates, but rather report on statewide numbers, so their design is not trying to capture a representative sample of Latino Republicans, which adds some amount of unknown bias, beyond the +/- 8.5%
3. Latinos in Nevada have been consistently moving away from the Republican party. Recall that in the 2010 general election when Republican Sharon Angle embraced an anti-immigrant platform for her campaign she won only 8% of the Latino vote, to 90% for Harry Reid. In a detailed analysis of the demographics and political profile of Latinos in Nevada Brookings Mountain West summed it up this way:
In sum, based upon analysis of survey data from the 2012 election it appears that within Nevada’s Latino community there are few if any sub‐populations where the Republican Party has much traction. Much of the Republican Party’s struggles with Latino voters in Nevada stems from the inconsistency between the GOP’s policy agenda and the preferences of most Latino voters in the state and the perceived insensitivity of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, towards the state’s Latino community.
4. Just looking at Latino participation in the Democratic and Republican caucuses, there were an estimated 16,500 Latinos who participated in the Democratic caucus and cast a Democratic ballot. On the Republican side it was about 6,000 and Trump came away with an estimated 2,600 Latino votes, or only 11% of all Latinos participants in the caucuses.
5. In a poll of Latino voters in general election battleground states (which included Nevada), impreMedia and Latino Decisions found that 80% of Latino voters said Trump’s statements about Mexicans and immigrants gave them a less favorable opinion of the GOP overall. This has been corroborated by Gallup’s monthly tracker and NBC polling, and reported by CNN in their headline “Latinos see Donald Trump as hurting GOP brand“and most recently by Political Science professor Lynn Vavreck writing for the New York Times Upshot who called him “damager-in-chief to the party reputation” among Latinos.
Sorry Donald, you are not #1 with Hispanics in Nevada.
Dr. David Damore is a Senior Analyst at Latino Decisions. He is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Senior Nonresident Fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program. Damore has been cited as an expert on Latino voting by the Las Vegas Sun and L.A. Times, and identified by FiveThirtyEight as a lead Nevada expert.