Questionable Poll Claims Six of 10 Latinos Can't ID Senate Candidates

A survey claims a majority of Latino voters can’t name Chris Murphy, left, and Linda McMahon, right, the respective U.S. Senate candidates.

A statewide survey claiming 56 percent of Latino voters can’t name the two candidates for U.S. Senate without being prompted is raising some eyebrows for its findings, small sample size and unclear methodology. The poll results are drawing media attention because Latino voters are seen as the swing vote in the tight Senate race.
The survey was conducted by Pulso, a new Hartford polling and market research consultancy specializing in Latino markets. The  telephone survey, a firm official said, was conducted to raise awareness of the new company.
The survey polled 100 Latino registered voters – it is unclear how the random sample was selected and where in the state the calls were made. Pulso said a representative balance of Democrat, Republican, and unaffiliated voters was achieved and 67 of the 100 calls were conducted in Spanish using Pulso staff.
Wilson Camelo, one of Pulso’s three managing directors, defended the small sample size for the survey that was designed by a researcher his firm engaged as an advisor.   “It’s not out of proportion with the state [Latino] population being 16 percent,” he said, claiming that when the University of Connecticut does a poll, “only 500” people are interviewed.
Typically, experts say,  a sample size is larger.  An October Quinnipiac University poll in the U.S. Senate race had a sample of 1,696 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points.
State Rep. Andres Ayala, a Democratic State Senate candidate from Bridgeport, was skeptical of the polls results. “I’ve had my headquarters open for more than a month and a half. We’ve been out there and talking to folks. We find the Latino voters do know who the candidates are,” he said
Hank Zucker, who holds a Ph.D. in social sciences and owns Creative Research Systems of Petaluma, Calif., said in a phone interview, “One hundred is definitely too low. The plus and minus numbers are very high if you have that few.” Plus and minus numbers refer to a poll’s margin of error. The Quinnipiac poll mentioned above was 2.4 percent, meaning the results could be off either way by 2.4 percent. The Pulso poll, according to Zucker, has a margin of error of 9.8 percent.
Not surprisingly, the McMahon campaign also questioned the results. “Throughout this campaign, Linda has been reaching out to members of the Latino community all across the state to promote her plan to get our country’s economy back on track and put people back to work,” said Todd Abrajano, a campaign communications director. Murphy’s campaign did not respond before this story was posted.
Ayala picked up on that theme. “How could Latinos not be aware? Linda McMahon is everywhere. Literature is flung into the mailboxes. Locally in Bridgeport, Chris Murphy is on the Spanish radio stations. I question the validity of those statistics. I’ve been an elected official for 16 years. I’ve seen a lot. The poll doesn’t seem right.”
Edwin Vargas, a Democratic candidate for state representative in Hartford said, ” I was incredibly surprised when I read it. We have been working hard to promote Murphy.  Who were the 100 people? Anyone can find 100 people who are disengaged.”
Oscar Nieves, owner of WPRX Radio, a major AM Spanish language station located in Berlin, said,” I know who Linda McMahon is and I know who Chris Murphy is definitely.” His Spanish language station is running ads from both candidates and he says its morning talk show gets numerous calls from listeners who are following the U.S. Senate race. Nieves said, “I don’t know who [the pollsters] talked with. I don’t think much of that poll.  I am in the business and my first reaction was whoever took this poll is not talking with the people we are talking with.”
Murphy campaign spokesperson Taylor Lavender, who responded after this story was originally published, said, “Linda McMahon is spending millions of dollars on attack ads trying to distract voters from her right-wing positions on the issues that matter to middle class families in communities across Connecticut. Chris has a strong record fighting for local jobs and families, and he has been proud to partner with the Latino community to invest in critical programs like job training and youth mentoring. These investments would be slashed under McMahon’s right-wing Republican plan to give tax cuts to the wealthy, including a $7 million tax cut for herself, at the expense of Connecticut’s middle class families. And the more voters learn about the differences between the candidates, the more they will support Chris Murphy.”
The Pulso Poll results claim:

  • 50 percent of Latino registered voters in Connecticut remain undecided in the tight senatorial race between Chris Murphy (D) and Linda McMahon
  • Latino voters who could name the senatorial candidates revealed a virtual dead heat with 19 percent favoring Murphy and 16 percent McMahon.
  • Low name recognition of candidates and a large undecided voting block are at least partly due to lack of attention to Latino voters by the candidates.  Fifty-one percent of Connecticut Latino voters say they have not directly received any campaign information from any candidate. Of those who did, 38 percent received information about Obama, 10 percent about Romney, 25 percent about McMahon and 21 percent about Murphy.
  • The issues most important to Connecticut Latino voters include financial concerns such as jobs, the economy, healthcare/insurance and energy/oil/gas prices, and education. Almost 8 of 10 (78 percent) of voters rated these issues a ten on a zero-10 scale.
  • Latino voters generally feel they are better off now than four years ago, with 37 percent saying they feel they are better off while 21 percent feel they are worse off. Young voters 18-34 are less positive than older voters (23 percent are better off). Those with lower income are less positive (26 percent are better off).



3 thoughts on “Questionable Poll Claims Six of 10 Latinos Can't ID Senate Candidates

  1. The first-ever non-partisan poll of Latino voters in Connecticut was conducted to sound, professional research standards using a random and representative sample of registered Latino voters across the state. The sample size of 100, while small compared to other polls, still provides a statistically accurate depiction of Latino voter attitudes and beliefs – including the particularly the low awareness of the Connecticut senatorial candidates among registered Latino voters.
    In fact, the sample of 100 is subject to a range of error of +/- 9.8 percent at the 95% confidence limit. This means that if we’d conducted the same study 100 times (1,000) interviews, we’d get the same answers 95 times…with most of the answers clustering right around those we reported. So, the Pulso Poll finding that 56 percent of registered Latino voters could not name either candidate in an unaided fashion could technically range from a high of 66 percent to a low of 46 percent who could not name either candidate.
    Even at the low of 46 percent, the indisputable conclusion of the study remains that senatorial candidates have much work to do to reach this important voting bloc.
    To put the poll’s accuracy in context, the UConn/Courant study released yesterday was based on a survey of 574 randomly selected likely voters. If the survey had reached the proportional number of Latinos as the state’s population of 13 percent, it would have had a sub-sample about 75 Latino voters. Professional researchers and journalists would not question conclusions drawn from this poll had they reported something of importance about the Latino community.
    We welcome the reactions to this first-ever poll and it shows that many misconceptions about Connecticut Latino voters remain. This demonstrates that an organization like Pulso is much needed to help decision-makers make sound decisions based on professionally-conducted and accurate polls of Latinos.
    Pulso is proud to be the first organization taking the initiative to listen to the pulse of the Latino community, whose opinions are largely ignored and underreported. We are proud of our recent survey and confidently stand by its findings.
    Wilson Camelo and John Bourget
    Pulso — The Pulse of the Hispanic Market

  2. It’s standard journalism practice to question a study’s methodology and how numbers are arrived at to establish the credibility of a new source before publishing that work as fact. The failure of other journalists not to ask these questions does not mean it was wrong for CTLatinoNews to do so. The survey itself, the lack of clear answers in response to our questions prior to our report on the methodology, and particularly the pushback from prominent Latinos are all newsworthy.
    Keith Griffin

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