For the survey PAC+ interviewed 2,685 randomly selected registered Hispanic voters in Texas counties with the highest number of Latino eligible voters: Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant, El Paso and Harris. The findings give support to a major part of Democrats plan to take back Texas — register and turnout Latino voters. According to pollster Dr. Julie Martinez Ortega, “Latino voters make up 43% of the ‘Texas Blue’ vote,”.
Republicans most straightforward pitch to Hispanics has been to try and co-identify as “conservative” and play up shared family values. It appears that whatever assumptions about shared values Republicans made were incorrect. When asked, “When it comes to social issues — such as religion, abortion and same-sex marriage — which party do you generally think does the best job of representing your views? Democrats or Republicans?”, 58% said Democrats and only 24% identified with Republicans. This backs up other recent polls that show Hispanics by large margins support a woman’s right to end her pregnancy. Adriana Maestas, of the National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health, gave an early warning to Republicans over their “conventional wisdom” on Hispanics and social issues prior to the 2012 election when she said, “…if the GOP continues to reach out to Latino voters based on the perceived social agenda. These kinds of messages may not be well received this election year.” She was correct as 58% of those survey by PAC+ supported Obama and only 24% supported Romney.
On economic issues, “like jobs, the economy, and immigration”, Hispanics still identified most with Democrats at 57%. One of the most successful tools Republicans have used is recruiting Hispanic candidates. A majority of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate because they were “Hispanic”, with 44% saying they would be much more likely. Senator Ted Cruz accordingly got 32% of the Hispanic vote, but 21% of those surveyed actually thought he was a Democrat.
Emphasis in the original. I want to dig into that last data point a bit. The question about how much Latino support Cruz has received – specifically, how much of a boost he got in heavily Democratic Latino areas – has been a frequent topic of discussion since his election last November. I’ve written several posts on the subject. Here are the relevant numbers from the PAC Plus poll:
What did you do in the 2012 contest for President?Obama 58% Romney 24% Neither 19%
What did you do in the contest for Senate?Sadler 27% Cruz 32% Neither 41%
To the best of your knowledge, is Senator Ted Cruz a Democrat or a Republican? If you’re not sure, just make your best guess.Democrat 21% Republican 61% Not sure 18%
Would you be more likely to support a candidate who is Hispanic than one who is not?Much 25% Somewhat 20% Not 22% Not sure 33%
Full toplines are here. If you take the “Neither”s at their word in the Presidential question, Obama got about 70% of the Latinos who did vote, which is entirely in agreement with the Latino Decisions exit poll of Texas. The Sadler/Cruz numbers, needless to say, stick out like a sore thumb. My explanation for the huge disparity is that the 2012 Senate race was basically indistinguishable from any other statewide downballot race, at least once the GOP primary was over. I can’t honestly say I ever saw a Ted Cruz ad on TV, and as we know Paul Sadler didn’t have two dimes to rub together. I strongly suspect a large number of people polled simply didn’t recognize Sadler’s name and thus said they didn’t vote, while some other said they voted for Cruz because of their mistaken belief that he’s a Democrat or because if all else were equal they preferred a Latino to a non-Latino. We know that while there was some dropoff in voting in the Sadler/Cruz race, it wasn’t that much – both candidates got over 97% of the total vote as their party’s Presidential candidate, a figure that holds consistent through each of the State Rep districts, so the much larger “Neither” answer here is unlikely to be accurate. If you go to the House members’ page and click on an individual Member, you can now see the election data for each of the State Rep districts. A check of the most heavily Latino State Rep districts shows clearly the disparity between the poll result and the actual election numbers:
Dist SSRV Obama Sadler Diff Romney Cruz Diff ==================================================== 35 76.7 66.3 61.4 -4.9 32.7 36.0 +3.3 36 85.4 74.6 70.8 -3.8 24.4 27.0 +2.6 37 80.0 69.2 60.8 -8.4 29.7 35.0 +5.3 38 79.9 66.1 58.4 -7.7 32.9 38.1 +5.2 39 83.9 73.9 69.6 -4.3 25.1 28.1 +3.0 40 87.5 75.2 70.9 -4.3 23.7 26.6 +2.9 42 88.4 75.5 63.3 -12.2 23.4 32.5 +8.9 75 82.8 72.2 66.9 -5.3 26.6 29.7 +3.1 76 82.9 76.8 71.5 -5.3 21.8 25.7 +3.8 79 71.3 64.6 60.1 -4.5 34.1 36.9 +2.8 80 80.4 68.4 60.5 -7.9 30.7 35.6 +4.9
SSVR = Spanish Surname Registered Voters; the number given is a percentage. In most districts, Sadler had a modest decrease in vote percentage compared to President Obama, while Cruz gained a smaller number of points on Mitt Romney. Only in four of the 11 districts is the dropoff from Obama to Sadler significant. Cruz benefited from being a Latino candidate running against a non-Latino candidate in a race where neither candidate was well known. As I’ve shown before, this was true for other Latino candidates – Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian – in similar contests. Democrats get the bulk of Latino votes, but in the absence of information about the candidates they will lose a few votes to Latino candidates from other parties. When you get right down to it, this is yet another commercial for Battleground Texas and their neighbor-to-neighbor model for getting out the vote. Latinos vastly prefer the Democratic position on the issues. Like all voters, they need to have accurate information about the candidates to ensure they make the choice that best reflects their values, and they need a reason to go to the polls to express those values. No matter how we study this issue, or how much evidence we amass on it, the same conclusions remain valid.