Are Two Polls Showing Sanders Winning with Latino Voters in New York Correct?

Two polls released this week from NBC/WSJ/Marist and NY1/Baruch College show Bernie Sanders leading with Latina and Latino voters ahead of next week’s Big Apple showdown. NBC has Sanders with a narrow 51-47% edge among hispanic voters; NY1 has Sanders with a more substantial 55-38% lead. In lockstep with the major media narrative of Clinton versus Sanders to-date, neither NBC or NY1 released those figures in their stories accompanying the polls. NBC first buried the numbers at the bottom of another story about how Sanders does badly with non-white voters, then captured those numbers, which would appear to be similar, in a general non-white voter category in updated poll numbers out Thursday evening. NY1‘s numbers are available in raw form only.

These figures appear to confirm two national polls and a Field Poll of California where Sanders is pulling even or has taken a substantial lead with likely Latinx voters. I discussed those polls in my article last week on Latino millennials in California.

Still, caution should be exercised with these figures. Projecting who will win the Latino vote, or even who has won it according to results versus exit polling, has been one of the most contentious issues this Democratic election cycle. In an under-covered story, Bernie Sanders won the Latino vote in Illinois – narrowly according to exit polls, more decisively if majority Latina and Latino wards in Chicago and nearby suburbs are indicative. NBC, however, had projected a much larger thirty-four point win for Sanders with Latinos in Illinois. In Florida, which voted the same day, NBC projected just a five point loss with hispanic voters for Sanders; he lost by thirty-six according to exit polling.

Furthermore, four other polls in New York from April continue to show Clinton with a double digit lead with likely Latina/o voters. CBS had Sanders down fifty-six points with hispanic voters as of April 1. Emerson, which competes with Fox News for the worst pro-Clinton bias outside the South, interviewed just twenty-three Latina or Latino likely voters and has Sanders down 68-32. PPP has similar numbers, 66-28 for Clinton. The Siena College poll out yesterday shows a tighter race at 54-42 with 11% of Latin voters undecided. A seventh poll, from Fox, appears to show a relatively even race with respect to hispanic voters, but it did not release exact figures. The numbers Fox did release said Sanders was down 61-29 with black likely voters but just 56-37 with people of color as a whole. Averaging these seven polls’ take on the Latino vote would suggest something like a 58-39% race in favor of Clinton.

As I head toward my final call for New York, projecting how Latinas and Latinos will vote is one of the largest conundrums. Apart from contradictory forecasts in the polls, my FiveThirtyEight Facebook Primary (adjusted) model suggests that Sanders could do very very well in heavily Latino zip codes in Brooklyn, should fare about evenly in Latino majority zip codes in Manhattan, and would likely lose big to Secretary Clinton on the East side of The Bronx. (The Facebook Primary figures have not been updated since February 29.) Bronx County as a whole is 55% Latino according to US Census figures. I will not make my final projection until after FiveThirtyEight updates Facebook Primary numbers, as it has promised, ahead of New York’s vote.

I disagree with Seth Abramson, who thinks Clinton’s support with non-white voters is collapsing. Sanders has moved the stick a bit, little by little with African American voters. Using filters with Ipsos-Reuters online polling feature tells the story. From January 12 – February 12, African American registered voters supported Clinton over Sanders 68-24. From February 12 – March 12 by 65 – 26 and from March 12 – April 12 by 60 – 32.

Closing the gap by 16% over two months matters a great deal, but it doesn’t represent a collapse. With Latina and Latino registered voters, it’s a wildly different story. Clinton over Sander 52-43 on February 12. Sanders over Clinton 50-45 on March 12.

And by April 12? Sanders 68-28. A pick-up of 25% for Sanders, while Clinton’s support dropped by 24% over the same period, might very well be described as a collapse.

We’ll see if actual voting in New York bears this out.

Given the closed nature of New York’s Democratic primary, however, many Latinas and Latinos who have not voted previously and who may want to vote for Sanders could be unable to vote because of draconian cut off dates for switched (October) or new voter registrations (March 25th). But if the Ipsos-Reuters figures accurately capture a change in already-registered Latino voter sentiment, a big big surprise could be in store in New York. If I had to make a guess right now, I would go with something very close to Siena College’s numbers as well as the average of the six or seven polls we have: 56-43 hispanics in favor of Clinton.

But I may be starting to change my mind.

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