The Anti-Immigrant Right & the Future of Political Polling


Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


Pop Center, 9 Bow Street, Cambridge, MA

Matt A. BarretoMatt A. Barreto, University of Washington

About the Seminar
In 2010 Republicans received a swell of support that gave them a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, however they fell short of taking the Senate. Beyond the 60 seat GOP pickup in the House, the big news story of Election 2010 was the Democrats holding on to the Senate, against all odds, and to the bewilderment of most pollsters.

What explains the Democrats’ success, and the polls failure in multiple U.S. Senate contests? Quite simply: the Latino vote. Research from Latino Decisions shows very clearly that the extreme anti-immigrant stance taken by many Republicans drove down their share among Latino voters to historic lows, and that further, traditional pre-election and exit polls failed to accurately predict or capture this pattern. For example, in Nevada where Harry Reid scored a surprise victory over Sharron Angle, not one single poll offered Spanish language interviews. Data compiled by Barreto shows quite convincingly that Latino voters were driven away from the Republican party by the anti-immigrant theme in 2010, and that methodologically pre-election polls and exit polls had many, many failings. In 2010 and beyond, failing to understand the Latino vote means we fail to understand American elections.

About Matt A. Barreto
Matt A. Barreto is an associate professor in political science at the University of Washington, Seattle and currently the director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (WISER). He is also the director of the annual Washington Poll. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine in 2005. His research examines the political participation of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and his work has been published in the American Political Science Review, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, and other peer reviewed journals. He is the author of the book, Ethnic Cues: The role of shared ethnicity in Latino political behavior published by the University of Michigan Press in 2010.

Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.