Democrats in shock as Biden struggles in poll of Latinos

Democrats who thought they had election 2020 locked up are reeling from a new poll of Latinos nationwide which found underwhelming enthusiasm for former Vice President Joe Biden.

The survey also found their interest in the election is waning. Just 60% of Latinos said they were certain to vote in November, compared with 73% in the February poll.

Latino Decisions conducted the national poll of Latinos on behalf of SOMOS Community Care, a New York-area network of physicians serving the region’s Latino and Asian immigrant communities.

Just 49% of Latino registered voters would vote for Biden while another 10% said they were undecided but leaning towards backing him, according to the poll. Seventeen percent of respondents said they back Trump, while another 6% were undecided but leaning in his direction. Eighteen percent said they were undecided.

The presumptive presidential nominee is not polling as well as past Democratic nominees of the party. Even more startling is the revelation that President Donald Trump’s widely mocked and vilified daily coronavirus briefings are being well received in the community.

Democrats are terrified that Trump’s domination of the news cycle during the pandemic, pulling in more than 6 million viewers in the ratings at times, may be giving him an advantage with Latinos. They are a critical voting bloc for Democrats in such battleground states as Arizona, Nevada and Florida and will outnumber African Americans as the largest minority voting bloc for the first time in 2020.

The media and Democrats have been hammering Trump since 2015 with a smear campaign that he is the most racist president of this generation, but this messaging does not seem to be shoring up their support in the Latino community at levels they need to win the White House.

Matt Barreto, a co-founder of Latino Decisions, said the results reflected how hard it has been for Biden to get his message to Latino voters when they are preoccupied with a public health emergency and Trump has been dominating the news.

“The media cycle is not their fault, but there is a deficit of information from Biden and the Democrats,” Barreto said. “Because of TV news coverage, Latino voters are only hearing from Trump. They are also hearing negative things about him, but it’s all about Trump.”

Data from the same poll released last week found that more than 65% of Latinos have lost their jobs or suffered a significant reduction in their incomes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The poll surprisingly found generally supportive views for the government’s response to the virus. Forty-five percent support Trump’s handling of the pandemic while 55% disapprove.

Forty-seven percent of Latinos believe the president “is providing clear and helpful information about the coronavirus,” while 50% disagree. Eighty-five percent of respondents agree, “State or local officials have made it clear what I should be doing right now to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

An overwhelming 81% agreed with the statement, “We are all in this together and need to do whatever we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” even if it means missing work or school.

“The polling data suggests it has been difficult for Democrats to get their message out,” said Albert Morales, senior political director of Latino Decisions.

“While Trump does not appear to be gaining traction, Latinos appear to be giving him the benefit of the doubt during an unprecedented pandemic. The good news for Democrats is that they have a presumptive nominee three months sooner than they did in 2016. Enough time to mount an offensive strategy,” said Morales.

Biden’s tenure as Barack Obama’s vice president has hurt his standing with Latinos who could be critical to winning the White House. Obama deported about 3 million people living in the U.S. illegally and became widely known as “deporter-in-chief” in the community. Latinos overwhelmingly backed Biden’s opponent, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, during the Democratic primary.

The survey found that Biden would get a bounce in enthusiasm if he were to select Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto for his vice presidential running mate. She made history four years ago as the first Latina elected to the chamber.

SOMOS was co-founded by Henry Muñoz, the former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He blamed the lukewarm support for Biden among Latinos on Democrats who are “creating a vacuum” by not properly informing the Latino community about how the Trump administration is responding to the coronavirus crisis.