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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Bush Got Fewer Latino Votes Than Estimated Exit Polls In Florida, Texas Skewed Early Figures
December 3, 2004
Washington --- Fewer Hispanics voted for President Bush on Nov. 2 than first reported, according to various polls.
One figure cited widely since election night --- that Bush received 44 percent of the Latino vote --- came from exit polls conducted for major TV networks and other media by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
Ana Maria Arumi, elections manager for NBC News, said Thursday that the number had been lowered to 40 percent based on a re-examination of the data and use of a much larger sample.
The problem, she said, was that Republican-leaning precincts in South Florida were overrepresented in the initial interviews.
The same poll also overstated the Hispanic vote for Bush in Texas. At first it reported that a whopping 59 percent of the state's Latinos voted to re-elect the president. A subsequent correction put that number at 49 percent.
Despite the adjustments, the poll still shows that Bush increased his share of the Hispanic vote by 5 percent from the 2000 election, Arumi said at a National Press Club forum about Hispanic voting patterns.
"No matter how we slice it, there have been big increases for Bush," she said.
But others aren't so sure.
The William C. Velasquez Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, conducted its own Election Day poll of Latinos in 11 states where 80 percent of them reside. It found that 33 percent voted for Bush, which is about the same level as in 2000.
Antonio Gonzalez, president of the institute, said that many national polls sample Hispanics the same way they do the larger population, without recognizing that a greater proportion live in cities.
As a result, the polls overcount suburban and rural Hispanics, who tend to be more conservative.
He said the issues of greatest importance to Hispanic voters, according to the institute's poll, were jobs, education and the war in Iraq, not the "moral values" issues cited by voters at large.
"Ask yourself, if the nation had voted like Latinos, who would be president," he said.
BusinessWeek magazine also recently examined election returns from 62 jurisdictions in 13 states with a large Hispanic population and found that Bush made gains in 85 percent of them, but on average increased his margin by just 3 percentage points, far less than the 9-point boost cited by the Edison poll on election night.