At fivethirtyeight.com, Harry Enten noted that the exit polls showed Trump winning 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, which was better than Romney’s 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012. Taking issue with the exit polls, Gary Segura and Matt Barreto argued that Clinton did better than Obama, receiving nearly 80 percent of the Hispanic vote. Enten also considered Clinton’s performance among Hispanics in six counties with more than 90 percent Hispanic populations, claiming that Clinton underperformed in those counties compared to Obama in 2012.
Here’s the excerpt:
Sources: ABC News, Census Bureau
Clinton didn’t underperform everywhere. Latino Decisions points to a number of heavily Latino precincts in Chicago, Los Angeles County and Miami-Dade County (which has a heavily Cuban population) where Clinton outperformed Obama. She also did better in El Paso and San Antonio, Texas, which were not specifically highlighted by Latino Decisions. Those are all heavily populated areas, unlike some of the rural Texas counties where she underperformed. It’s possible that Clinton’s strength in those larger counties was enough to make her nationwide margin among Latinos wider than Obama’s. But even in the few areas where Clinton outperformed Obama, she rarely did so by as much as we would expect if Clinton improved her margin among Latinos by as much as Latino Decisions found in their survey.
Barreto said Latino Decisions is primarily concerned with determining the share of the Latino vote that Clinton and Trump won, not how this year’s outcome compares to 2012’s. “We’re not necessarily interested in comparisons to Obama, although that will eventually be part of our story,” Barreto said. “We’re just trying to estimate what Clinton’s vote share was and what Trump’s vote share was in 2016 on Election Day.”
The county-level data also points to a larger issue: Clinton did significantly worse than Obama overall, both nationally and in most individual counties. That means that to have won Latinos by a larger margin than Obama — and especially to have won by 9 points more, as Latino Decisions’ data implies — Clinton would have to be finding much more support among that group than Obama did even as evidence suggests she got less support from every other racial and ethnic demographic. County-level election results suggest Clinton lost less ground among Latinos than among other demographic groups, especially non-Hispanic whites, but she still seems to have lost ground, not gained it.
Voting results don’t prove that Clinton did worse than Obama among Latinos, or that Trump did better than Romney. But the results do suggest that if nearly 80 percent of Latinos voted for Clinton, as Latino Decisions argues, then Latino turnout must have been down in many counties, or Clinton must have done much worse than Obama among non-Latinos in those counties. Otherwise, the overwhelming pro-Clinton Latino vote would have swung heavily Latino counties more dramatically toward Clinton. The evidence, then, suggests that Clinton fell short among Latinos in one of two ways: Either she didn’t win as large a share of them as Obama, or she didn’t convince as many of them to turn out to vote. Since both the exit polls and Latino Decisions agree that turnout among Latinos was up, the latter explanation doesn’t seem likely.
Let’s take a closer look at the six counties and the performance of the candidates in 2016 vs. 2012. According to the exit polls, Trump received 34 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas, and Clinton earned 61 percent. The table contains the information on the six counties used by Enten, but it also adds several counties where Hispanics make up a large percentage of the voting age population and, more importantly, contributed a significant portion of the total presidential vote in Texas.
In the far right column—labeled Clinton or Obama—the positive percentage indicates that the difference between Obama’s percentage of the vote and Romney’s percentage of the vote was better than the difference between Clinton’s percentage of the vote and Trump’s percentage of the vote for that county. A negative percentage in that column indicates that the difference between Obama’s percentage of the vote and Romney’s percentage of the vote was worse than the difference between Clinton’s percentage of the vote and Trumps percentage of the vote. Note that Clinton bested Obama in two of Enten’s six counties and in average of the six counties. Among the larger counties with high percentages of Hispanic voting age populations, Clinton bested Obama in four of the five counties and in the average for the counties. Also, note that Romney beat Obama by 3.32 percent in Nueces County in 2012, and Trump beat Clinton by 1.50 percent in 2016. Also, Nueces County has the lowest percentage of Hispanic voting age population of the eleven counties.
The data for these eleven counties demonstrate that Trump did not best Romney in terms of percentage of the Hispanic Vote in these Texas counties.