Super Tuesday began giving some clues to answer this question: Who is winning over the Democrat Latino vote: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?
On Tuesday, when voters in a dozen states voted in both of the party’s primaries, one out of ten Democratic voters was Latino (10%), according to exit polls by a consortium of media. The bulk of these voters were in Texas, Colorado and some major concentrations in states like Virginia and Tennessee.
According to exit polls in Texas and eight other states that voted on Tuesday (the estimation excluded states with caucuses like Colorado and Minnesota), Hillary Clinton won the support of two-thirds of Latino voters, about 66%, said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University Polling Institute whom, on Tuesday, acted as analyst of the surveys conducted by the consortium of media.
“This is the first time we have enough Latino voters in numbers to make a good estimate,” Murray said in an interview with La Opinion. “We evaluated Latino voters in Texas separately and then, in the other states. In both we noticed that Hillary Clinton won two-thirds of the Latino vote, Bernie Sanders won 28% and the rest appears ‘uncommitted'”.
This does not include Colorado, a state where Bernie Sanders won by nearly 20 percentage points over Clinton, or Minnesota, both states where they “caucuses” are organized.
Murray added that the Latino vote in Texas did not reveal the gender differences between Sanders and Clinton that have been seen in other states (where more women vote for Hillary and men for Sanders.)
“In Texas, a similar proportion of Latino men and women favored Clinton over Sanders,” he said.
The figures also indicate that Clinton swept the vote in South Texas, where the highest concentration of Latino voters is.
What happened in Colorado with Bernie Sanders?
By not including the results from Colorado in the exit polls, a state where caucuses were held instead of primaries (and where Sanders leveled against Clinton by a margin of 58.9% versus 40.4%, almost 20 percentage points), the behavior of the Latino vote there is in a dispute, although Sanders’ campaign says the candidate and senator from Vermont won the state “with the help of the Latino vote.”
“Bernie Sanders won 10 out of the 15 most Latino counties of Colorado, many of them with a large margin,” noted a statement released on Wednesday by the Sanders campaign.
Arturo Carmona, political director of the campaign, said that, “it is only possible to win the state of Colorado by over 18 points if you receive strong support from the Latino community.”
There is, however, no concrete study of the Latino vote in Colorado, and just a few days ago the Sanders campaign was distributing an analysis that presented the exact opposite thesis: winning over counties with a strong Latino population does not mean winning over the Latino vote in that county. This is what the Clinton campaign argued to claim they had won Latinos in Nevada, another caucus state.
By examining the vote in Colorado counties with the most Latinos, however, it can be seen that Clinton, despite losing the state by more than 18 points, won the only two counties with Latino majority in Colorado, and by a wide margin: the Costilla County, which has 64% of Latinos, gave Hillary a 56% of the votes and 20.3% for Bernie Sanders. In Conejos County, which is 53% Latino, Hillary also won, with 58% of the vote against 40 for Sanders.
Sanders, however, had large margins of victory in Alamosa, Rio Grande and Las Animas.
Some agree that Sanders must have achieved a good percentage of the Latino vote in Colorado. “It’s hard to tell without seeing the data by precinct but I imagine Bernie could not have won some of the largest counties without Latino support,” said Stephen Nuño, politics professor at Northern Arizona University and who often writes about the Latino vote.
The underlying question remains: How much is that Latino support, and is it the majority of the Latino vote in Colorado?
Statisticians say it is very difficult to extrapolate how Latinos voted simply because there are many Latinos in a county where someone won.
Loren Collingwood, professor of political sciences at the University of California, Riverside, said you cannot conclude one thing from the other.
“It may be that the county is Hispanic and that the number of Latinos who ended up going to the assembly is very small. We would have to look at more accurate data,” she said, noting that only 121,000 Democratic voters went to the polls in Colorado, just over 10% of the 980,000 registered Democrats. “We do not know if those who went to vote are representative or not at all.”
The ability to attract the Latino vote will be important for either of the two candidates to become the Democrat nominee: this demographic will be essential to win a handful of “determinant” (swing) states that decide who is elected as the new president of the United States in November.