Updated November 25, 2022 - 8:36 am
RENO — Despite efforts by Republicans to make inroads with Nevada’s Latino voters, early CNN exit polls show that outreach was largely unsuccessful.
The CNN exit polls, which compared more than 2,900 voter responses in the U.S. Senate race and the governor’s race, showed 62 percent of respondents who identified as Latino voted for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, over her Republican opponent, former attorney general Adam Laxalt. In the governor’s race, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak received 62 percent of the Latino vote compared to Republican Joe Lombardo’s 37 percent.
Still, it may be a sign that Latinos are increasingly breaking from the Democratic Party. Latino voters, who made up nearly 20 percent of the voters in Nevada in 2020 according to Pew Research Center, have historically voted Democratic. But some reports have suggested that support is narrowing, and an October Washington Post-Ipsos poll showed that although Democrats had a 27-point advantage with Hispanic voters, that number was down from nearly 40 points in 2018.
Latino respondents made up 12 percent of the sample in the CNN Senate race poll and 13 percent in the poll for the governor’s race. White respondents made up 67 percent of participants in both polls, while Black respondents made up 11 percent and Asian respondents made up 4 percent. “Other racial/ethnic groups,” made up the remaining 5 percent of respondents.
In both the Nevada governor and Senate races, 58 percent of white voters cast their ballot for the Republican, while 83 percent of Black voters chose their Democratic opponents. A majority of voters who identified as Asian voted for Cortez Masto, at 57 percent, and for Sisolak, at 54 percent. 48 percent of the respondents who chose “other racial/ethnic groups” voted for the incumbent Democratic senator and 47 percent for the incumbent Democratic governor.
Exit polls have limitations, such as large margins of error, and are better used as a preliminary look at trends in the voting population rather than solid data, said Christina Ladam, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“You’re going to likely get people who are more to the extremes than the general voting population because these are the people who are comfortable with sharing their views,” she said.
But exit polls, despite their limits, can provide real-time analysis, said University of Nevada, Las Vegas political science professor Dan Lee.
“It’s showing us a preliminary snapshot of what happened, and it kind of gives us a sense of what might have been going on,” he said.
Voters “not confident” in election fairness vote Lombardo, Laxalt
And one of the defining issues of the election for voters and analysts alike is election integrity.
The CNN poll asked respondents whether they were confident their state’s elections were “fair/accurate;” 76 percent answered that they were “confident,” and 21 percent said they were “not confident.”
Unsurprisingly, 85 percent of respondents who said they weren’t confident in the election voted for Laxalt, who was the face of the Donald Trump-backed lawsuits falsely alleging widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections. Laxalt has subsequently admitted President Joe Biden won the election. Of the respondents who said they were confident, 59 percent reported voting for Cortez Masto, while 39 percent voted for Laxalt.
In the governor’s race, 89 percent of respondents who said they weren’t confident in the elections voted for Lombardo, who received Trump’s endorsement but later tried to distance himself from the former president. Lombardo has maintained that Biden won in 2020 but has advocated for ending universal mail-in ballots and implementing other election changes.
Of those who said they had confidence in the election, 59 percent voted for Sisolak, while 38 percent voted for Lombardo.
Inflation, abortion split voters
The exit poll also asked voters which issue was most important to them. The economy was one of the most important issues for voters, with 36 percent of respondents ranking it as the most important one, followed by abortion, at 28 percent.
Other listed issues include crime, immigration and gun policy.
In the Senate race, 89 percent of those who ranked abortion as their top issue voted for Cortez Masto, while 72 percent of those who chose inflation voted for Laxalt. The split was similar in the governor’s race. Of those who chose abortion, 87 percent voted for Sisolak, while 71 percent of respondents who chose inflation as their top issue voted for Lombardo.
Of the respondents, 34 percent identified as Democrat, 36 percent identified as Republican and 30 percent identified as independents.
According to CNN, responses came from in-person Election Day interviews and both telephone and online polls to reflect those who voted early or by mail. Interviews were conducted by Edison Research, and the full sample of those polled, which included 18,571 respondents, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.