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Latino pollsters Matt Barreto, Gary Segura split from Latino Decisions, form their own firm

"We were ready to just go out on our own, presenting ourselves as a 100 percent Latino-owned firm,” Barreto says.
Image: Florida Voters Use Designated Drop Boxes To Submit Ballots
Poll workers help a voter put a mail-in ballot in an official Miami-Dade County ballot drop box on Aug. 11, 2020, in Miami.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Matt Barreto and Gary Segura, who tapped into Latino opinion as the population exploded and amplified it in the national political discourse, have parted ways with the polling firm Latino Decisions, which they helped create.

The two Latino political scientists have started their own polling and consulting firm, LD Insights LLC. Barreto said the new firm will continue to do Latino polling and consulting on Latinos and reach into other racial and ethnic groups.

“The old partnership was no longer a good fit for us,” Barreto told NBC News.

Latino Decisions will continue under the ownership of Pacific Market Research, owned by brothers Mark and Andrew Rosenkranz. But the split means the firm has lost its Latino partners.

Latino Decisions formed in 2010 when random digit dialing, essentially phone calls made randomly, was the main method for polling, Barreto said. But since then, polling methods have moved to surveying through cellphones and online, as well.

“We no longer are doing telephone survey research. We’ve been moving on from that, so we were ready to just go out on our own, presenting ourselves as a 100 percent Latino-owned firm,” Barreto said.

Mark Rosenkranz said Barreto and Segura left because they wanted to pursue other things.

“It wasn’t something we anticipated and it was their decision,” he said.

Latino Decisions, a Democratic polling firm, became a national pollster of Latinos, generally polling larger national and state samples of Latinos than many other firms. Much of its work is for Latino advocacy groups and Democratic organizations.

Barreto worked as a pollster for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and for Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020, although he had to suspend work for Latino Decisions while working for the campaigns.

Barreto and Segura’s departure comes after surges in Latino voting in recent election cycles and heightened demand for polling of Latinos.

Latino Decisions has not been alone in the landscape of polling of Latinos led by Latinos.

Florida-based Bendixen & Amandi International has been polling Latinos since 1984, when it was launched by Sergio Bendixen, who died in 2017. The firm also is Latino-owned, Fernand Amandi, a principal at the firm, says.

“It makes sense that as the Latino community grows in size and influence that there would be new entrants into the Latino polling field,” said Amandi, stressing the importance of bilingual and bicultural polling. The firm has tracked changing Latino voter attitudes in South Florida, including the surge in support for Donald Trump among Florida Latinos in the 2020 elections.

In addition, Mark Hugo Lopez at Pew Research Center has led nonpartisan research and polling of Latinos for years, tracking the Latino population’s growth and well-being as it has increased to some 60 million people today. He's also tracked Latinos' changing attitudes and opinions, voting strength, generational differences and Latino immigration.

Mark Rosenkranz said Latino Decisions would continue polling Latinos and still has a team of Latino researchers and experts with doctorates that work with the firm. He and his brother would like Latino Decisions to continue to have a Latino owner “because we know that is important," he said.

“Matt and Gary were two of the founders and they really contributed very significantly and were the face of Latino Decisions,” he said. “It certainly means we are going to have to bring new people on, though I can’t (right now) tell you exactly what final staffing will look like.”

Pacific Market Research, in business since 1998, also does research for the federal government and state governments, as well as private companies and nonprofits.

Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist and owner of Solidarity Strategies consulting firm, has pushed for more diversity in consulting and increased hiring of diverse firms. Rocha served as a senior political adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

He said Barreto and Segura were a welcome addition when they came on the political polling and consulting scene, where "99 percent of firms are owned by white men and women."

Sylvia Manzano, who has been a senior analyst with Latino Decisions, and Gabriel Sanchez, who was a principal with the polling firm, also are joining Barreto and Segura, Barreto said. Stephen Nuño, communications director and senior analyst, said in an email that his last day at Latino Decisions was Jan. 14.

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