Presidential preference cards sit on a desk during the Nevada Democratic presidential caucus at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

If Hispanic voters in Nevada are representative of the rest of the country, the most popular candidate with Hispanic Democrats is Bernie Sanders and the most popular Republican is Donald Trump. When those numbers, from entrance poll data reported by CNN, first came to light, they were met with a good deal of skepticism. Could Sanders really be beating Hillary Clinton? Could Donald "Let's Build A Wall" Trump be the most popular Republican?

Now, we can offer a more concrete answer. No, and no -- at least not nationally, and with some notable exceptions.

A new poll from The Washington Post and Univision finds that Hillary Clinton is the most popular candidate among Hispanics who plan to vote in the Democratic primary, and Sen. Marco Rubio is the most popular among those who plan to vote Republican. The poll, which was conducted before Jeb Bush dropped out after South Carolina, found Clinton leading Sanders by a wide margin, with Rubio's lead over Trump and Cruz much narrower. (Support from Bush backers was reallocated to those voters' second choices.)

Univision also polled last summer. As with the race overall, Trump, Rubio and Cruz have all improved since July (when Bush lead easily), while the margin between Clinton and Sanders has closed significantly.


When we compare these results with Nevada, you can see how stark the difference is between the national poll and the entrance numbers.


Why? In part because the entrance poll has a large margin of error. In part, it's because no state mirrors the national numbers precisely. And in large part, it's because the composition of the Hispanic electorate varies between and within states -- and so does support for candidates.

GOP candidate Donald Trump welcomed an enthusiastic supporter onstage during a rally in Las Vegas. Trump praised the woman, who said she was Columbian, saying, "never met her before, she's amazing." (Reuters)

Republicans

Rubio is the most popular among Hispanics planning to vote in the Republican primary. He also picked up the largest chunk of support from those who at first said they backed Jeb Bush, and is also the most popular second choice of the voting group.

Combined, that suggests a fairly dominant level of support for the Florida senator.


As is the case in other polls, Donald Trump's support is fervent but not very deep. He is the second choice of only 6 percent of voters.

His support is also split in another interesting way. Hispanics who were born in the United States were slightly more likely to back Trump than those who weren't -- the opposite of the support enjoyed by Marco Rubio.


In 2011, Nevada had one of the highest percentages of foreign-born Hispanics, according to Pew Research. It's also a group that is less likely to be able to vote.

Democrats

When we assessed the reports of Bernie Sanders's triumph among Nevada Hispanics, we noted a bit of data from the exit polls that fit neatly with reports from other groups: Younger Hispanics overwhelmingly preferred Sanders to Clinton.

The national poll reinforces that as well. Clinton leads by 29 points overall -- but trails with those under the age of 35. With every other Hispanic age group, though, Clinton dominates.


The Clinton-Sanders match-up also has a split based on place of birth. Clinton does much better with Hispanic voters who were born outside the U.S. -- though that, too, is moderated by the strength of Sanders's support among younger voters.


Age continues to be a defining split on the Democratic side -- with Clinton's strength among more-likely-to-vote older voters (Hispanic or not) being an advantage.

The mix of voters that head to the polls to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries makes much more of a difference than national topline numbers. But it's hard for Sanders or Trump to argue based solely on Nevada that he is the most popular candidate with Hispanics in his party.

In fact, it seems, neither is.

The Post-Univision poll was conducted Feb. 11-18 among a random national sample of 1,200 Hispanic registered voters on landline and cellular phones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; the survey was conducted in collaboration with the independent Bendixen & Amandi International and Republican firm Tarrance Group.