Joe Biden Loses Strength Among Latino Voters
As he consolidates himself as the Democratic Party candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to struggle to win over the Hispanic community.
Campaigning amid the coronavirus pandemic is not a simple task, especially when it comes to attracting severely affected communities.
For former Vice President Joe Biden in particular, gaining the support and commitment of Latino voters has been an uphill battle.
While his card as a former vice president of Barack Obama seems to work perfectly among the African-American community in the country, Latinos have another memory of that administration.
Obama is remembered among the Hispanic community as the "deporter in chief" after his administration deported 3 million immigrants from the country, which was part of the reason most voters decided to support Sen. Bernie Sanders in his race against Biden during the primaries.
As the Associated Press explained, the decision for Latinos is not simple: "They could look past Biden's resume and vote for him or sit out the election and risk another four years of President Donald Trump."
In other words, for Hispanics, this election seems to come down to choosing the lesser of two evils.
But with a demographic that has become increasingly aware of its reach and impact on national elections, it will be critical for the Biden campaign to deliver a message that will convince the 13 million Hispanic voters to go out and vote.
"The 'Let's go back to how things were' for people who feel like they have a boot on their neck, it's not always that compelling," said Marisa Franco, director, and co-founder of the Latino activist group Mijente, to AP.
Although community leaders such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz or Dolores Huerta have given their support to the Biden campaign, the unspoken argument is that this election is about choosing a way out and not a candidate.
"Our community definitely understands and knows the consequences of having Trump as president," said Laura Jiménez, the Biden campaign's Latino engagement director. "This election is about our lives, our safety, our ability to thrive and be in this country and be accepted."
However, recent polls among Latinos across the country have shown "lower-than-usual" support for the former vice president's candidacy, compared to other former Democratic nominees.
According to data collected by CBS News, "only 49% of registered Latino voters said they would vote for Biden, while another 10% said they were undecided but inclined to support him."
Similarly, 17% of respondents said they would support Trump, with another 6% undecided but leaning towards him.
The problem, it seems, lies in the lack of a concise message to the Hispanic community that demonstrates a steadfast commitment to their needs.
For Henry Muñoz, co-founder of the medical network SOMOS Community Care –an organization that, along with Latino Decisions, has been watching the polls closely– the drop in Biden's approval among the community is also due to a lack of communication and understanding of how Donald Trump has responded to the COVID-19 crisis, where Latinos are one of the most affected communities.
"This isn't an ask-people-for-their-vote moment; it's a moment when we should be speaking to Americans about what they're going through and reaching out to them and letting them know that we have their back, because the other party does not, and this president does not," he said. "He is killing us and not testing us, and we're losing jobs, and he's taking care of insiders."
Matt Barreto, a co-founder of Latino Decisions, agreed with this assessment and assured that the crisis the country is going through has not only been an obstacle to get the message across, but the president has monopolized it on all channels.
"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."