In states with high numbers of Latinos, the anticipated, overwhelming support for Clinton appeared to bear out. Yet Trump’s support nationally among Latinos was higher than expected. Matt Barreto, the co-founder and managing partner of the polling firm Latino Decisions, suggested some of that contrast can be attributed to flaws in exit polls: “The exit polls—and this is not to criticize them, they will admit this—are completely guessing in the moment, on the fly, on what the composition of the electorate is. … But they don’t know, and nobody will know until we look at the election data, what the turnout is.”
Yet even if the exit polls were off—as Barreto suggested—Latino support for Trump should not be dismissed. The Republican nominee appeared to be making gains among the Latino electorate coming into Election Day, Lopez said. The “Florida International University poll … was showing an uptick in support for Donald Trump in the weeks prior to the election. It was gradual but it was rising into the mid-20s,” he said. “And when you take a look at the Univision/Washington Post poll that was done in the last few days of October, that, too, showed Trump was winning somewhere in the 20s. To me, that suggests there was something going on and perhaps support for Trump was showing.” Such gains likely went under the radar, overshadowed by the expectation that Clinton would over-perform among Latino voters.