Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were supposedly in a tight race in California, particularly among Latinos. Some pollsters predicted that Clinton had a slight advantage, while others showed Sanders ahead. But Clinton not only won the state—she captured several counties with big Hispanic populations. This kind of forecast failure has come up in races across the country during the U.S. presidential election: Latinos, with an increasingly young electorate and low turnout rates, are distinctively hard to poll.
California has the largest Hispanic population of eligible voters in the country, according to the Pew Research Center. The group skews young: Hispanics under 45 account for roughly half of likely voters. And those between 18 and 33 make up 26 percent of the Hispanic population; among whites, for example, 18-to-33-year-olds only make up 20 percent. During the primary season, a pattern emerged among Sanders and Clinton supporters: Younger voters tended to flock to Sanders, while older voters backed Clinton. Among Latinos, the generational divide looked similar.
Prior to the California primary, the USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll of 489 Latino voters found they were evenly split between Clinton and Sanders. Clinton had a slight advantage among Latinos who were likely to vote in the Democratic primary, beating Sanders 47 to 41 percent. Without exit poll results, it’s unclear exactly how many Hispanic voters backed Clinton and Sanders, but counties with a large share of Hispanics appeared to back Clinton over Sanders.