Posted on July 21, 2020

Joe Biden Has an Enthusiasm Problem with Hispanic Voters. It’s Even Worse for Trump.

David Byler, Washington Post, July 17, 2020

In the 2020 Democratic primary, former vice president Joe Biden built his victory on votes from white moderates, African Americans and pragmatic Democrats. But Latino voters — particularly in California, Texas and Nevada — broke in the main for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

This appears to be a problem for the presumptive Democratic nominee. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won somewhere between 66 percent and 79 percent of the Latino vote, depending on the estimate, but Biden has been slightly underperforming Clinton, earning 62 percent of the Hispanic vote in the Economist/YouGov poll, 45 percent per Quinnipiac, 59 percent of the Latino vote in the NPR/Marist survey, and 64 percent of the Hispanic or Latino vote in the New York Times Upshot poll.


{snip} But Trump has his own problems with this demographic: he seems to be stuck under a persistent 25 to 30 percent ceiling with the Hispanic and Latino vote.

This ceiling first appeared in 2016, when Trump won roughly 29 percent of the Latino vote. At the time, that seemed like an achievement for Trump {snip} But soon, the ceiling hardened: even when Trump’s broader approval drifted upward after his election, his approval among Hispanic and Latino voters remained in this general range.

And now, when Trump needs more votes from anywhere he can get them, he’s still struggling to break through that ceiling. Trump won 25 percent of the Hispanic and Latino vote in the June edition of the New York Times/Upshot poll and averaged roughly 30 percent in other polls that had a Hispanic or Latino breakdown. Despite the challenges in polling Hispanic and Latino voters, that’s remarkably close to the 29 percent of the Latino vote Trump won in 2016.


In any case, Biden is taking concrete steps to bolster his appeal. He’s started airing Spanish-language ads, hiring Hispanic operatives and specialized pollsters, meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and he’s worked with Sanders on compromise policies that might help secure the Vermont independent’s primary voters. Time will likely help Biden, too: Hispanic voters are disproportionately young, and antipathy toward Trump will likely push overwhelmingly Democratic Latino millennials and Gen Z voters toward Biden as the election season wears on.

As Biden puts the work in, my guess is that he’ll become a Generic Democrat in the eyes of Latino voters and end up winning the group {snip}