Gallup Muddles Message for No Real Reason with Latest Presidential Favorability Survey of Latinos

Aug 30, 2016
9:33 AM
(Photos by Gage Skidmore)

(Photos by Gage Skidmore)

A new Gallup survey is trying REALLY HARD to find something newsworthy about how Latinos view Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Instead of just letting the survey results speak for themselves, Gallup —which usually doesn’t go down the route of overt spin— missed the mark in an August 26 post called, “Clinton Hispanic Advantage Smaller Among U.S.-Born Hispanics.”

First, the headline suggests that the poll was about voter preference and that Clinton is not generating Latino voter support, even though many recent national polls would clearly suggest otherwise. In other words, when reading “Hispanic Advantage,” the average online reader would conclude that Gallup asked respondents the question of whom would the vote for. But… once you begin to read the actual Gallup article, you soon realize that this poll is about favorability and nothing. In fact, Gallup reveals that the poll is about favorability in the lede:

Though U.S. Hispanics overall view Hillary Clinton three times more favorably than they do Donald Trump (65% to 21%), her edge is significantly smaller among U.S.-born Hispanics (43% to 29%). Meanwhile, foreign-born Hispanics are almost seven times more likely to view Clinton (87%) than Trump (13%) favorably.

They also add a simple chart for those who don’t want to actually read the story:


In summary, according to Gallup, 65% of all U.S. Latinos have a favorable opinion of Clinton. But if you break it down among Latinos born in the U.S. and those born outside the country, 43% of U.S.-born Latinos have a favorable view of Clinton and (wait for it) 87% of Latinos born outside of the U.S. view Clinton favorably.

Conversely (and don’t you think this is just as important), Trump’s favorables are at 21% with all U.S. Latinos. That 21% jumps to only 29% with U.S.-born Latinos. And, of course, when Gallup focuses only on Latinos born outside the U.S., Trump’s favorables are at 13%.


Gallup’s headline could have easily said, “Trump’s Favorables with Hispanics at Historically Low Numbers.”

But why did Gallup decide that the most important takeaway from this poll was, “Clinton Hispanic Advantage Smaller Among U.S.-Born Hispanics?”

The only reason we could find is this: Gallup is trying to suggest that even though Clinton has such high favorables with Latinos born outside the U.S., those high favorables might not necessarily translate to votes, so in essence, Trump should focus on U.S.-born Latinos to gain more support. As it tries to explain:

…Just 28% of Hispanics born outside the U.S. — the group that views Clinton so positively — say they are registered to vote, compared with 87% of those born in the U.S.

This lower voter registration rate could be related partly to citizenship issues, as some foreign-born Hispanics may not be legal U.S. citizens, and therefore are ineligible to vote.

However, you would think Gallup would have done some more digging before making such sweeping (and stereotypical) generalizations. In fact, a more detailed Pew report on the state of the Latino vote in 2016 would contradict that Gallup is saying:

The second-largest source [of Latino voter growth] is adult Hispanic immigrants who are in the U.S. legally and decide to become U.S. citizens (i.e., naturalize). Between 2012 and 2016 some 1.2 million will have done so, according to Pew Research Center projections.

1.2 million new voters is not a small number.


Furthermore, Gallup very likely overlooked several news stories reporting that the registration levels for Latinos is at record levels. This is from a July 11 in The Wall Street Journal:

Hispanic voter registration is hitting record numbers in several key states, including battlegrounds like Colorado, at a time when polls show Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump struggling to gain traction with those voters.

And why are even discussing this in the first place? Pew already addressed a voter preference Latino poll several weeks ago and was (wait for it), much more accurate about it:

Clinton holds an 80%-11% lead among Hispanic voters who are bilingual or Spanish-dominant (those who are more proficient in Spanish than English); these voters make up about 57% of all Latino registered voters. However, among the smaller group of Hispanic voters (43%) who are English-dominant – those who are more proficient in English than Spanish – just 48% back Clinton (41% would vote for Trump).

Which leads us to our final point. If you notice the dates from the Gallup poll, you will see that the poll was conducted from June 7 to July 1. Let’s repeat that: June 7 to July 1. Gallup decides to share this information on August 26. The gap is significant because the Gallup results do not take into account any recent events or news around the campaign. Like we said before, current national poll of Latinos shows Clinton crushing Trump, but Gallup’s newest poll is muddling the message and misleading the public, so much so that one conservative blogger is using the very confusing Gallup data to conclude this falsehood:


That image is just not true. Trump’s numbers with Latinos are decreasing, not increasing.

You would think a group like Gallup would step up its game when it comes to polling Latinos more accurately.