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Mitch Perry Report for 11.14.16 — Questioning the exit poll data

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Among the significant factoids produced by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research from last Tuesday’s election was that Donald Trump actually did better than Mitt Romney when it came to winning the Latino vote.

It wasn’t by much, but according to that information, Trump received 29 percent support from Hispanics, better than Romney’s 27 percent in 2012. That seems counterintuitive to some, considering that while Romney’s most egregious comment when it came to immigration was that people would need to “self-deport,” Trump went much further in his language.

Late last week a Latino polling firm totally questioned the data from Edison, raising a larger question, which is — with 47 million people voting BEFORE Election Day, how accurate is all the exit poll information, period?

Specifically, the group Latino Decisions simply doesn’t believe Edison regarding the Latino vote number. You can go to its blog post to get their full indictment of the plan, but part of their argument is that Trump’s 29 percent number was at odds with other high-quality, large-sample pre-election polling. Univision/Washington Post had him at 19 percent; NBC/Telemundo oversample 17; NALEO/Telemundo tracking poll 14; FIU/New Latino Voice 13.

Latino Decisions’ Election Eve poll (in the field Nov. 4-7) found 79 percent of Latinos backed Hillary Clinton, compared to 18 percent for Trump.

“Skeptics might say that all the polls were off this year, but actually, whatever the reason, the national polling miss was only around 1-2 percent compared to what the popular vote margin will eventually be. These Latino numbers are off by 10-15 percent,” the Latino Decisions authors write. “That requires a plausible explanation, and secret support for a man who described Latinos as rapists and criminals does not pass the sniff test. That’s why we see all these speculative stories. We suggest that if the exit poll numbers seem inexplicable, maybe they are wrong.”

An official with Edison argued in POLITICO last Friday that they stand by their research. I urge you to read their response to make up your own mind.

Edison interviewed 100,000 people on Election Day to come up with their findings: That 12 percent of Obama voters supported Trump, that Clinton led Trump among women by 12 percentage points, that Trump got 31 percent of voters who said they hadn’t been born as U.S. citizens. You can read these statistics in hundreds if not thousands of stories, treated as gospel. But, if nothing else, the Latino Decisions post makes you question whether all of this data is completely accurate. Something to think about as we move forward.

In other news …

Allison Tant will soon be out as chair of the Florida Democratic Party, leading to a rash of rumors regarding possible successors. Others wonder if it’s just rearranging chairs on the Titanic.

Officials with the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative were able to provide permanent housing to 25 military veterans on Friday.

And a recount will start shortly in Miami-Dade County for the House District 118 seat between Democrat Robert Asencio and Republican David Rivera.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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