Why Is Biden Struggling to Attract Latino Voters?

By , KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are both making big plays for Latino voters, with the president courting them in the West while Biden campaigns for the first time in Florida.

There are new signals that Biden better not take the Hispanic vote for granted, as the president makes inroads that could swing some close battleground states his way. 

It might surprise you, given the President’s harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration and his attacks on DACA and other policies, but he is doing better now with Latinos than he did four years ago. Hillary Clinton had a 37-point edge on Trump among Latino voters in 2016.

But if you average the most recent polls, Joe Biden is only beating Trump with Latinos by 28 points.

However, Biden is offsetting that by doing better with White voters than Clinton did, which is why he is still ahead in most polls, both nationally and in many of the swing states.

"I think there’s a certain advantage to the incumbency factor with some voters, not simply Latinos" said Jaime Regalado, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at California State University, Los Angeles. "(A) monolithic Latino community doesn’t exist. There have long been Republicans and conservatives in the ranks of Latino voters (and) among many other voters, too, in California."

Many Latinos are registered as independents, added Regalado.

"There’s no question about that," Regalado said about California going to Biden come Election Day. "Even if most Latinos stayed home."

Many in the Latinx community are out of work or are first responders and emergency care workers, meaning COVID-19, the economy and access to healthcare could be more important in the voting booth than immigration issues.

There are other reasons why Latinos have embraced Trump.

"Trump appears to be somebody that people reckon with and have to listen to," Regalado told KCBS Radio’s "The State Of California." "For a certain portion of the Latino community and other communities, that’s good. But for many more, the majority of Latinos are not supporting Trump, but they’re supporting Biden."

He estimated that as many as 1/4 Latino votes could go to Trump as the Republican incumbent and as many as 2/3 will go to Biden.

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