Most Latinos Haven’t Heard From Biden or Trump Campaigns About Voting, New Poll Finds

August 18, 2020by David Smiley, Miami Herald (TNS)
A sign advertises the convention at Wisconsin Center, home to the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee on August 11, 2020. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

MIAMI — Despite highly publicized efforts by Democrats and Republicans to win over Hispanic voters, a new national and swing states poll has found that a majority of Florida’s Hispanic voters have yet to be contacted about the November election.

Released Monday, the poll by Latino Decisions found that just 40% of Florida’s Hispanics have heard from political organizations about voting or registering to vote in the upcoming election. Nationally, the numbers are even lower, with just 34% of Latino adults having heard from the Republican or Democratic parties, or from the nonpartisan civic organizations heavily involved in grassroots organizing.

The results of the poll — conducted on behalf of health care organization Somos US and left-leaning Latino advocacy group UnidosUS — raise questions about the effectiveness of the Latino outreach efforts by President Donald Trump, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and the array of political and civic organizations working to mobilize voters in a year when campaigning has been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today is the kickoff of the Democratic National Convention, and the campaign season in the minds of many people begins today. We’ll be watching this convention in the same way we’ll be watching the Republican National Convention,” Henry Muñoz, co-founder of Somos US and a former Democratic National Committee finance chairman, told reporters during a video presentation. “Engagement and communication is incredibly important.”

The Latino Decisions poll — a wide-ranging survey about the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, economics and political attitudes — was conducted Aug. 7-15 across the country. It included 1,842 Latino adults, 1,488 of whom were registered voters, and over-sampled battleground states, such as Florida. State-specific findings had a 6.3% margin of error.

Latino Decisions was hired last month by the Biden campaign to conduct polling, according to Politico. The poll released Monday was not affiliated with the campaign.

Nationally, the poll found that Biden leads Trump among Latino voters by a 66% to 24% margin. Those numbers include voters who are leaning toward either candidate. In Florida, home to a large and conservative-leaning Cuban-American voter base, the results were much closer, with Biden leading by 55% to 41% — a narrower lead than Biden had in a similar poll by Latino Decisions in June.

It’s unclear, though, how many of Florida’s Hispanic voters will participate in November. The August poll found that nearly 20% of Florida Latinos say they have a 50% chance of voting in November.

“Latinos are 1 in 5 Americans now, for goodness’ sake,” said Gary Segura, co-founder of Latino Decisions. “You’re going to have to engage them to get a majority vote for any outcome at the national level.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have talked loudly about efforts to register and engage Hispanic voters, both nationally and in Florida.

Last summer, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said during a Florida Democratic Party convention held at Disney World that the party believed there were 400,000 Hispanics in Florida who were unregistered at that time but likely to vote for Democrats if they registered and showed up at the polls this November. This month, the Biden campaign announced the candidate’s Latino policy platform that he intends to carry out if elected.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, often touts its Latinos for Trump outreach effort, which it rolled out in Miami last summer after tapping Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez as a co-chairwoman.

But Segura said the poll’s findings about poor contact by the campaigns among Latino voters are consistent with historical trends. Asked Monday how the Biden campaign was doing in its efforts to reach Hispanic voters in key swing states, he said the question put him in “a bit of an awkward position.”

“I do know where the expenditures are going and I do think there’s a fair amount being directed toward Latinos,” said Segura, who believes Biden will do well in the fall with Hispanic voters. “But I think that effort just started ramping up over the summer, so ask me that same question in a month and a half.”

Janet Murguía, president of UnidosUS, told reporters that “even the Biden campaign would acknowledge that they’ve not done as good a job as they should have” with contacting Latino voters. Murguía said she has also expressed frustration to the Democratic National Committee about the lack of a Latino presence “in prime time at the convention on behalf of the campaign.”

But she also told reporters Monday that she’s been pleased with some of the Biden campaign’s diverse hiring. And she agreed with Segura that the Biden campaign is taking the right steps to improve its standing with Latinos come November — an effort that could be the difference between victory and defeat.

“We should just remember some of these states may be very close in terms of the actual Election Day turnout,” she said. “And any group of votes can make the singular difference.”

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©2020 Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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