Missing From CNN's Debate Focus Group: Latinos

As they have with every debate, CNN ran a focus group of 25 panelists during the debate. Here's the breakdown of these so-called undecided and likely voters:

We're going to be following exactly what they're feeling as they watch the debate. I want to give you more information about our focus group tonight. A racial breakdown -- 76% of the focus group is white, 20% black, 4% asian. Remember, we're not really talking about representing the community here in Orlando. We're talking about a very narrow sliver of people who say they're both undecided and likely voters.

Hmmm. Does that mean they think Latinos are all zipped up and delivered already, that there aren't any who might still be undecided? It's Orlando, for heaven's sake, and they can't dredge up one Latino voter for their panel?

That's really too bad, because the Latino vote could be the deciding bloc in this election. Latino voters do not move as a homogenous block -- there are conservatives, there are liberals, and there are independents who make decisions based upon some key issues. From the group Latino Decisions, some insight about the impact of the Latino vote in swing state Colorado for CNN's producers:

The Latino vote will help determine the presidential election. If one is not convinced, playing around with the Latino Decisions’ Latino Vote Map for a few of the battleground states with a sizeable Latino population ought to change your mind. The basic equation for each state is quite simple: the marginal (dis)advantage for one of the candidates among Latino voters multiplied by the Latino proportion of the electorate equals the net effect of the Latino vote. The Latino effect thus comes down to two variables—marginal group preferences and relative turnout. If one approaches zero, the Latino effect approaches zero. And in a state like Colorado, now one of the closest battleground states with a sizeable Latino population, how this equation plays out quite possibly determines who passes the 270 point in the Electoral College.

Yes, well, I'd say Florida would be one of those states. Last week's CNN snap poll reported weird, skewed results too, and at the time I challenged them on the value of reporting anything if they overweighted for Republicans by a ratio of 70:30. My point then was that any result coming out of that kind of group is meaningless for an overview look at reactions. It only matters if you care what Republicans thought. And this week, we have a panel with no Latinos in a state with a lot of Latinos. So CNN's results this time around only matter if you care what white people think.

If, on the other hand, you care about what the electorate thinks, try a more balanced poll. Or better yet, just make up your own mind and forget what the "panelists" think.

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