Poll suggests Biden's Hispanic vote in Florida slipping, raising concerns inside, outside campaign

Sanders wants Biden to do more to energize Latino voters, Bloomberg pledges $100 million toward Florida effort

Updated: September 14, 2020 - 11:57am

New polling suggests that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s support among Latino voters is slipping, which has his campaign refocusing efforts on winning over Hispanic voters in swing state Florida.

Concerns about Biden’s strength among such Florida voters follows the release last week of a NBC-Marist poll that showed they are essentially split between Biden and President Trump. The numbers compare to Democrat Hillary Clinton having lost to Trump in Florida in the 2016 presidential race, despite having led Trump by a 59% to 36% margin among Latinos in the same poll.

Biden in recent weeks has focused on securing a key part of Democrats’ so-called Blue Wall – Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – which if he wins could give him a path to victory without having to take Florida.

However, Biden will now go this week to Florida, Trump’s new home state where he continues to campaign, including a stop earlier this month in the city of Jupiter. Winning Florida, where polls show the candidates are essentially deadlocked, is critical in Trump’s effort to secure a second term.

Biden is scheduled Tuesday to hold a roundtable discussion with veterans in Tampa before attending a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.

The Biden campaign’s efforts to improve it candidate's standing with Hispanic voters also includes efforts to shore up support from older, suburbanites and African Americans voters to make up for potential shortcomings elsewhere.

This weekend, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, a leader of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing and second to Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, increased his concerns about whether Biden is doing enough to energize younger and Latino voters and those from the progressive movement, according to the Associated Press.  

“Senator Sanders is confident that Joe Biden is in a very strong position to win this election, but nevertheless feels there are areas the campaign can continue to improve upon,’‘ Faiz Shakir, Sanders’s former campaign manager, said Saturday in a statement. 

“He has been in direct contact with the Biden team and has urged them to put more emphasis on how they will raise wages, create millions of good paying jobs, lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand health care coverage. He also thinks that a stronger outreach to young people, the Latino community and the progressive movement will be of real help to the campaign."

In addition, New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg committed over the weekend to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help the Democratic ticket, the wire service also reports.

Hispanic voters in Florida tend to be somewhat more Republican-leaning than Hispanic voters nationwide because of the state’s Cuban American population. 

Some on Biden’s team privately acknowledge he may not win over Latinos by the same margins as Clinton, although they are not conceding defeat. 

Senior strategist Cristobal Alex said the campaign has been pounding airwaves with Spanish-language advertising for months in addition to launching “Latino leadership councils” across the country, the wire service also reports.