It’s a tough time for political polls. But with that challenge in mind, and amid an onslaught of misinformation specifically in Latino communities, Futuro Media conducted its first-ever political poll of likely Latino voters in three battleground states: Georgia, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Futuro Media, a nonprofit media outlet founded in 2010 by veteran journalist Maria Hinojosa, aims to tell stories that are often overlooked by mainstream media outlets. The company has more than 30 full-time employees across four media properties: The national Latino news and culture public radio show Latino USA, weekly politics podcast In The Thick, online news site Latino Rebels, and podcasting outlet Futuro Studios. (Futoro recently won its first Pulitzer Prize for Suave, its podcast on the juvenile criminal justice system.)
“We view political polling as a service. It’s something to inform readership,” Futuro president Julio Ricardo Varela said. “We’ve been openly critical over the years about political polling when it comes to the Latino community.” But they thought they could do better as an organization with a national, Latino-leaning scope. Latino USA, as an example, had more than half a million weekly listeners in 2021 and four million downloads, according to the annual report.
Futuro and the Chicago-based political strategy and research firm IZQ surveyed 1,089 voters across Georgia, Florida, and Pennsylvania from October to to October 11, 2022. The data was weighted to ”be representative of likely Latino voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history” in each state, and surveys — on the web and via SMS — were available in both English and Spanish. Among the poll‘s key findings:
Latino voters will contribute significantly to victories of both Republican and Democratic candidates in November. They remain a large group of voters who can be won by either party, depending on the current state of their economic well-being, and how much effort candidates put into courting them.
There are large gaps in terms of candidate awareness, indicating that a large portion of the prospective Latino electorate has not been sufficiently contacted by candidates in either party.
Both parties have left certain issues on the table which could have boosted their support among Latino voters. Most notably, reducing energy costs, increasing access to bilingual education, and expressing support for decolonization of the remaining U.S. territories.
In addition to asking about cultural matters like their views of the term “Latinx,” the poll also asked respondents who they voted for in the last election, whether they’d voted in an election in their country of origin, and how often they think a U.S. political candidate wins an election due to cheating or fraud.
“We found pretty consistently that Latinos are pretty skeptical of the validity of the U.S. voting system — which is highly problematic, especially if both parties are trying to engage them more,” IZQ’s Gustavo Sanchez told Futuro’s Varela on Latino Rebels Radio. “It may also be that a lot of folks are coming from countries where elections are stolen or where elections are not as transparent. They’re seeing politicians in the U.S. question elections more and more. For them, it’s like, ‘I’ve seen this play before. This isn’t surprising. This is what I expect from government.’”
As part of the poll, respondents were asked if they would be open to being contacted by a journalist from Futuro. About 5% said yes, according to Varela. Reporters for Latino Rebels were then able to talk to poll respondents to produce more in-depth stories about Latino voters in Georgia and Florida.
Futuro used grant funding from the Walton Family Foundation to pay for the poll, which Varela said cost “in the mid-five figures.” It isn’t the type of news outlet we typically see conducting political polling, which is why it wanted to dip its toes in.
While Varela said he’s not sure that Futuro will continue to poll because it is expensive to do, he encourages other independent news outlets to try out polling for themselves as a way to get a pulse on voters in their coverage areas.
“I wouldn’t say the stake is 100% in the sand permanently,” Varela said. “But we wanted to try to do something to add to the conversation … now that we were able to start with a small step, we have a case study.”