Harry Enten, CNN, September 15, 2020
President Donald Trump is making his case for Hispanic votes in Arizona and Nevada this week. Meanwhile, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is making his first general election appearance in Florida on Tuesday, with an event to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month.
The moves by both campaigns are an acknowledgment of the importance of the Hispanic vote, and they come as Trump is doing better with Hispanics than he did four years ago.
That improvement is helping Trump stay competitive in places he might not otherwise be.
Back in 2016, Hillary Clinton easily took Hispanic voters. She was ahead with them by 37 points in an average of the final pre-election polls.
Biden is winning Hispanics right now, but just by 28 points in an average of live interview polls taken over the last few months. Because I’ve averaged nearly 20 polls, we can feel confident that this shift in the Hispanic vote is real. Moreover, it’s quite consistent with an earlier June analysis I conducted that had Biden winning Hispanics by less than 30 points.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Biden’s best path to the White House largely relies on winning states Trump won four years ago and where Hispanics voters make up less than 5% of the electorate. Specifically, Biden has been up by at least five points over the last two months in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Biden is able to do so because he has countered his relative weakness with Hispanic voters by doing extremely well with White voters. Biden has cut Clinton’s deficit among White voters in the pre-election polls from about 13 points in 2016 to a scant four points now.
The result is a Biden lead nationally and in the swing states because White voters make up about seven times the percentage of the electorate Hispanics do nationally and at least three times (though in some cases many more times) in the closest swing states Trump won in 2016.
That said, Biden’s troubles with Hispanic voters make his job more difficult. Hispanic voters make up at least 15% of the electorate in Arizona, Florida and Nevada. The same holds true in Texas where Biden’s campaign wants to be competitive.
Part of Biden’s issue no doubt is Trump’s efforts to win over Hispanic voters in Florida. He’s long been invested in the idea of winning over Hispanic Floridians, and it seems to be paying off.
An average of live interview non-partisan Florida polls taken since the summer gives Biden just a six-point lead with Hispanics. That’s down considerably from the 21-point advantage Clinton had with them in the final pre-election polls in 2016.
Whether or not Biden can pick up late support from Hispanics is unclear.