Misleading Latinos for Political Advantage

While Senator Barack Obama has become a leading a competitor to win the Democratic Party presidential nod, Latinos have yet to embrace him--at least that is what a "poll" circulating around Latino websites wants us to believe.

In a poll allegedly conducted by Miami-based Encuesta Organization shows Latinos favoring Hillary Clinton at 56% versus just 15% for Barack Obama.

The strange thing is that the results to do not mirror any of the national polls. What gives?

A closer look at the "poll" raises serious questions about its legitimacy, including:

- While the poll results were issued this week, the survey itself was conducted in October of 2006--way before the rise of Senator Obama. Poll results of more than a week are pretty much totally meaningless, and their release raises serious questions.

- Senator John Kerry is shown in second place with 30% of Latino support. Given that Senator Kerry has been mired in the single digits for awhile, and enjoys virtually no support for a second try at the brass ring, it's highly suspicious that Latinos Democrats would view the senator so highly.

- Another obvious anomaly is that the poll shows Latinos preferring Colin Powell for president on the Republican side. What? The fact that he's even presented as a potential candidate is beyond ridiculous.

- But here's the clincher: The poll results are based on a sample of just 151 individuals of which only 32 were Latino. I'm not sure there's a margin of error large enough to assign to this travesty.

So who is this Encuesta group and why are they putting out such a shoddy and misleading poll?

The company's website claims that Encuesta is a specialist in Latino market research and that it provides services to corporate and political clients. While the website has a list of companies, it does not list any of its political clients. I truly hope that the poll is the work of some rogue individual and not a bonafide Latino research group.

Actually, the shoddiness of the poll gives the appearance that it was a last minute tactic to get Latino media focused on the poll's "results" rather than on some other news. What news could someone want to have buried in the Latino media? Could it have been Obama's announcement? I think so.

Unfortunately, slick political people--Latino and nonLatino alike--believe three things about Latinos: 1) we're easily manipulated and we're inclined believe anything that's fed to us in Latino media; 2) Latino media cares little about researching and verifying stories; and 3) a potential Black-Latino alliance can be easily subverted through misinformation and the exploitation of existing racial rivalries.

I personally view the Encuesta "poll", the Encuesta Company (if they're involved) and the people paying for this gutter tactic as being beyond despicable.

Unfortunately, we're likely to see more of this trash as the campaign season begins to roll.

Given the importance of the 2008 election cycle to the future of the Latino community, my hope is that we Latinos not allow ourselves to be manipulated; that we do your research or at least listen to varying views; and that we don't go with something simply because it's in the media or because some Latino personality said so. But most importantly, let's not allow campaigns on either the right or the left to use the race card.

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