Which Floridians identify as Hispanic?
Bottom Line: Pollsters have had a poor history projecting election outcomes in Florida – at least as it pertains to statewide elections which are won by Republicans. Consider this... Starting with the 2010 Election cycle, Republicans have won three US Senate races and three Gubernatorial elections - losing only one senate race during that time. What did the pollsters have to say? In the six elections won by Republicans, the average of accredited pollsters was only accurate twice (each senate wins by Marco Rubio). The pollsters missed the other four races erroring on the side of Democrats. Add polling to meteorology as perhaps the only professions in which you can be wrong most of the time and still make a living doing it. There are multiple reasons why pollsters are especially awful in projecting outcomes in our state but there’s one that rises above the rest. The “Hispanic” vote.
For years I’ve suggested that the term Hispanic means about 30 different things in Florida. It’s far from a myopic voting bloc as often is commonly presented by pundits and pollsters alike. For that matter even those who tend to go a little further than most might break out Cubans and Puerto Ricans – as though even they are myopic blocks. The oversimplification of Hispanics in our state remains pervasive. It also raises the question of who is Hispanic? There isn’t a “right” answer, so it simply comes down to whether someone identifies as Hispanic. According to the Pew Research Center here is who does:
- 97% of foreign-born Americans of Latino ancestry
- 92% of 2nd generation Americans
- 77% of 3rd generation Americans
- 50% of 4th generation or later
This is also relevant in the context of Census data. Clearly not everyone of perceived Hispanic identification by many define themselves that way. After the 2010 Census many alleged Hispanics in Florida were under sampled. A deep dive I conducted around that time revealed something different that’s reflected in Pew’s data. Many people simply don’t define themselves the way others do. Just as identity politics isn’t constructive – neither is the oversimplification of identity polling. As you hear about who is performing best with “Hispanics” between now and November 3rd - keep this in mind.