Getting Latinos Wrong – By MATT BARRETO and THOMAS F. SCHALLER October 31, 2014

PoliticsWhy pollsters can’t count right—and the difference it could make in Colorado on Tuesday.

Is it possible that Colorado’s Cory Gardner is shaping up to be this election cycle’s Sharron Angle? You might recall what happened to Angle in the Nevada Senate race in 2010. Almost every pre-election poll had Angle, the tea-party-supported Republican challenger to Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid, leading the race handily. On the eve of the election, no less a polling personage than Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight pegged Angle’s chances of winning at 83 percent. But not only did Reid win, he beat Angle by a comfortable 5.7 points .

What went wrong with the polling four years ago should be a cautionary tale for what’s about to take place on Tuesday, with future control of the Senate expected to tilt to the Republicans. In Colorado, according to the pre-election polls, Republican Gardner is leading incumbent Democrat Mark Udall in the Centennial State’s Senate race. But dig a little deeper and there seems like there’s something off about the numbers—potentially the same problem that plagued Nevada’s race four years ago.

A few pollsters did manage to predict a Reid victory in 2010—among them our firm, Latino Decisions, which based its projection in part on our pre-election polls of Latinos. The reason we got it right is that we survey Latinos properly, supported by bilingual callers who administer the surveys in the language respondents use when answering the phone. We also check respondent samples against known, Census-based demographics of the Latino electorate (nationally or in specific states) to safeguard against the results being comprised by higher subsamples of English-speaking, college-educated or American-born Latinos who, on average, are more likely to vote Republican.

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